The top in-house lawyers for Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. on Tuesday butted heads on Capitol Hill over whether a significant standard essential patent (SEP) problem exists.
Testifying at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights hearing, Intel General Counsel A. Douglas Melamed and Qualcomm General Counsel Donald Rosenberg couldn't agree on whether the federal government should upend the status quo on patents for Wi-Fi and other technologies used by multiple companies' products.
Melamed, whose company is the world's largest semiconductor chip maker, said the tech industry is under threat from SEP holders that more and more frequently back out on commitments to license their patents used in industry-standard technologies on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms. He said the reneging has caused "significant harm" to innovation, competition, and consumers, fueling a need for the government to ensure that SEP holders live up to the FRAND obligations under their licensing agreements.
Rosenberg, whose company manufacturers semiconductors for wireless devices, said such problems are "marginal," but thinks the courts and federal agencies are appropriately handling SEP disputes that may exist.