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Standard-essential patents in the automotive industry

Introduction

For all automobile manufacturers, connectivity has become a must-have feature, and not only a nice-to-have accessory. Connectivity features drive the consumers demand and more and more clients are willing to switch from a car brand to another for more connectivity (according to a Mc Kinsey study).

Connectivity however implies the implementation of technologies which are rather new for the automotive industry and, for most of it, subject to a long and complex standardisation process. The industry is hence facing licensing and economic issues in relation to the use of the patents covering such standardised technologies, the so-called standard-essential patents (“SEPs”).

Understanding how the landscape of the automotive industry is challenged by the SEPs, which may impact its business model and innovation, is crucial for all actors of the industry. Such impact and the related challenges and strategies of the automotive industry have been presented by Pauline Debré, Partner and Head of the IP/TMT department at Linklaters (Paris), and Sabine Thibault-Liger, Counsel within the Competition department at Linklaters (Paris), during the FT Future of the Cars Summit which took place in London on 14 and 15 May 2019. The content of their presentation is presented here.