Lee Statement on Letter to the International Trade Commission on Standard Essential Patents

May 21, 2013

Today, Senator Lee, ranking Republican on the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, led a bipartisan group of Senators in sending a letter to the International Trade Commission (ITC) requesting that it carefully assess public interest considerations in cases involving standard essential patents.

“To develop technological standards that allow for compatibility among products made by different businesses across an industry, standard-setting organizations rely on patent holders to commit to license included patents on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms,” said Lee.  “Companies that have pledged not to exercise exclusivity over such patents should not expect an exclusion order from the ITC, which has jurisdiction over imports that may infringe patents, when they are under an obligation to license their patents on FRAND terms.”

The bipartisan letter—also signed by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Jim Risch (R-ID)—counsels against any ITC decision “that would enable or encourage companies to include their patented technology in a standard, commit to license included patents on FRAND terms, and then seek to secure an exclusion order despite a breach of that commitment.”  “Such an outcome,” the letter concludes, “would severely undermine broad participation in the standards-setting process, which would in turn threaten the meaningful benefits these standards provide for both industries and consumers.”

ITC Letter on Standard Essential Patents