Standard setting is considered an inevitable process nowadays. It enables the interoperability of products and services from different vendors. If a standard cannot be applied without using a patent, the industry terms such a patent a “standard-essential patent”. Such patents may conflict with the need for market participants or entrants to have access to standards. This situation is particularly critical in areas where standards have obtained market- or industry-wide recognition and where products that do not provide “standard compliance” may therefore be unsalable. This is an important issue, particularly given the ongoing patent wars relating to smart phones and tablets taking place in the German courts and elsewhere.
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