Antitrust Routine in Delineating the Frontier of SEP and FRAND-Encumbered Patents: A Comparative Study


Arindam Basu
Anshuman Sahoo


Standards-Essential Patents (SEPs), and Fair, Reasonable, And Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing commitments by the SEP holders, play a crucial role in enabling cooperation amid the cut-throat competition of innovation markets. Unsurprisingly, FRAND and SEPs have been the subject of frequent antitrust scrutiny across jurisdictions in recent years. However, in a post-COVID era, markets crippled by the pandemic will desperately need regulatory relaxations across the globe. Significant shifts in policy approaches may be necessary for certain situations to encourage innovation and instil stability. Against such a backdrop, we explore the emerging trends in the SEP-antitrust intersection across the US and the EU and try to understand the policy approaches these jurisdictions are adopting by analysing the recent judicial and legislative trends in addressing the issue of antitrust intervention in FRAND-encumbered patents. We then explore the Indian jurisdiction and discuss in detail the problems and prospects of FRAND licensing in India.


How to Cite
Basu, A., & Sahoo, A. (2023). Antitrust Routine in Delineating the Frontier of SEP and FRAND-Encumbered Patents: A Comparative Study. Competition Commission of India Journal on Competition Law and Policy, 4(1), 41–76.


  1. Aghion, P., et al. (2005). Competition and innovation: An inverted- U relationship. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 120(2), 701-28. 0033553053970214
  2. Arrow, K. (1962). Economic welfare and the allocation of resources for invention in the rate and direction of inventive activity: economic and social factors. National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., 609-26.
  3. Aspen Skiing Co. v. Aspen Highlands Skiing Corp., 472 US 585 (1985).
  4. BCG & GSMA (2012). The economic benefits of early harmonisation of the digital dividend spectrum & the cost of fragmentation in Asia-Pacific. Retrieved from uploads/2012/07/277967-01-Asia-Pacific-FINAL-vf1.pdf
  5. Borghetti, J. S., et al. (2021). FRAND licensing levels under EU law. European Competition Journal, 17(2), 205-68. 17441056.2020.1862542
  6. Calabresi, G. (1968). Transaction costs, resource allocation and liability rules – A comment. The Journal of Law and Economics, 11(1), 67-73.
  7. Cheng, T. K. (2020). Competition law in developing countries. Oxford University Press.
  8. Clarke A (1962). Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible. Harper & Row.
  9. Coase, R. (1960). The problem of social cost. The Journal of Law and Economics, 3, 1-44.
  10. Competition Commission of India (2021). Market study on the telecom sector in India: Key findings and observations. Retrieved from https://www.cci. Telecom-Sector-In-India.pdf
  11. Competition Directorate-General of the European Commission (2014). Standard-essential patents: Competition policy brief, occasional discussion papers by the competition directorate–general of the European commission. Retrieved from c57ffbf7-9aeb-11e6-868c-01aa75ed71a1.0001.01/DOC_1
  12. Contreras, J. L. (2017). Assertion of standard essential patents by nonpracticing entities. In D. Sokol (ed), Patent Assertion Entities and Competition Policy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 50-71. https://doi. org/10.1017/9781316415887.004
  13. Cooter, R. et al. (1982). Bargaining in the shadow of the law: A testable model of strategic behavior. The Journal of Legal Studies, 11, 225-251.
  14. Cotter, T. (1999). Intellectual property and the essential facilities doctrine. The Antitrust Bulletin, 44(1), 211. https://doi. org/10.1177/0003603X9904400106
  15. Curran, P. D. (2003). Standard-setting organizations: Patents, price fixing, and per se legality. Chicago Law Review, 70, 984-6. https://doi. org/10.2307/1600663
  16. Devlin, A., Jacobs, M., Peixoto, B. (2009). Success, dominance, and interoperbility. Indiana Law Journal, 84(4), 1129.
  17. Dornis, T. (2020). Standard-essential patents and FRAND licensing—At the crossroads of economic theory and legal practice. Journal of European Competition Law & Practice, 11, 575-91. lpaa047
  18. Edwards, L. M., Ginsburg, D. H., Wright, J. D. (2020). Section 2 Mangled: FTC v Qualcomm on the duty to deal, price squeezes, and exclusive dealing. Journal of Antitrust Enforcement, 8, 335–53. https://
  19. Federal Trade Commission (2021). Statement by acting chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter on agency’s decision not to petition supreme court for review of Qualcomm case. Retrieved from press-releases/2021/03/statement-acting-chairwoman-rebecca-kellyslaughter- agencys
  20. Financial Times (2020). Reliance Jio battles falling share of active users on the network. Retrieved from e352-4377-bd29-c81f3366c48d
  21. FTC v. Qualcomm Inc., 935 F.3d. 752 (9th Cir. 2019).
  22. Gautier, A., Petit, N. (2019). Smallest salable patent practicing unit and component licensing: Why 1$ is not 1$. Journal of Competition Law & Economics, 15, 690-717.
  23. Geradin, D. (2020). SEP licensing after two decades of legal wrangling: Some issues solved, many still to address. TILEC Discussion Paper No. DP2020- 040.
  24. Hovenkamp, H. (2020a). FRAND and Antitrust. Cornell Law Review, 105, 1683-144. ticle=3095&context=faculty_scholarship
  25. Hovenkamp, H. (2020b). Justice department’s new position on patents, standard setting, and injunctions. Retrieved from https://www. position-patents-standard-setting-injunctions/ https://doi. org/10.2139/ssrn.3514516
  26. India Brand Equity Foundation (2021). Indian telecommunications industry report. Retrieved from aspx
  27. In Re Samir Agrawal and ANI Technologies Private Limited, case no 37 of 2018 (2018).
  28. In Re Shri Vinod Kumar Gupta and WhatsApp Inc, case no 99 of 2016 (2016). Justickets Pvt. Ltd. v. Big Tree Entertainment/Vista Entertainment, Case No. 08 of 2016.
  29. K Sera Sera Digital Cinemas Limited v. Pen India Ltd. and Others, Case No. 97 of 2016.
  30. Lemley, M., Simcoe, T. (2019). How essential are standard-essential patents? Cornell Law Review, 104(3), 607-642. ssrn.3128420
  31. M/s ATOS Worldline India Private Limited v. M/s Verifone India Sales Private Limited, Case No. 56 of 2012.
  32. McGowan, D. (1999). Networks and intention in antitrust and intellectual property. Journal of Corporation Law, 24, pp. 485, 493.
  33. McSweeny, T. (2018). Holding the line on patent holdup: Why antitrust enforcement matters. Retrieved from files/documents/public_statements/1350033/ mcsweeny_-_the_reality_ of_patent_hold-up_3-21-18.pdf
  34. Melamed, D., Shapiro, C. (2018). How antitrust law can make FRAND commitments more effective. Yale Law Journal, 127, 2110-41. https://
  35. Motorola - Enforcement of GPRS standard essential patents, Case AT.39985 (2014) (EC).
  36. Neils, G., Jenkins, H., Kavanagh, J. (2016). Economics for competition lawyers. Oxford University Press.
  37. Nokia (2021). Daimler and Nokia signed a patent licensing agreement. Retrieved from releases/2021/06/01/daimler-and-nokia-sign-patent-licensing-agreement/
  38. NTT DoCoMo v. HTC, Case No. 7 O 66/15 (Regional Court) (2016).
  39. OECD (2019). Licensing of IP rights and competition law – Note by the United States (submitted for Item 6 of the 131st OECD Competition Committee meeting on 5-7 June 2019). Retrieved from DAF/COMP/WD(2019)58/en/pdf
  40. OECD (2019). Licensing of IP rights and competition law – Note by the EU (Submitted for Item 6 of the 131st OECD Competition Committee meeting on 5-7 June 2019). Retrieved from DAF/COMP/WD(2019)52/en/pdf
  41. OECD (2019). Licensing of IP rights and competition law – Note by India (Submitted for Item 6 of the 131st OECD Competition Committee meeting on 5-7 June 2019). Retrieved from DAF/COMP(2019)3/en/pdf
  42. Qualcomm (2019). 5G economy to generate $13.2 trillion in sales enablement by 2035. Retrieved from releases/2019/11/07/5g-economy-generate-132-trillion-sales-enablement- 2035
  43. RAMBUS, Case COMP/38.636 (2009) (EC). https://doi. org/10.3928/00904481-20091201-05
  44. Saint Lawrence v. Deutsche Telekom, Case No. 2 O 106/14 (Regional Court) (2015).
  45. Sagers, C. L. (2014). Antitrust: Examples and explanations. Walter Kluwer.
  46. Samsung - Enforcement of UMTS standard essential patents, Case AT.39939 (2014) (EC).
  47. Schumpeter, J. (1942). Capitalism, socialism and democracy. Harper & Brothers.
  48. Shamsher Kataria v. Honda Siel Cars India Ltd. and Others, Case No. 3 of 2011.
  49. Shelanski, H. (2009). Unilateral refusals to deal in intellectual and other property. Antitrust Law Journal, 76(2), 369.
  50. Sisvel v. Haier, Case No. 4a O 93/14 (Regional Court) (2015).
  51. Sisvel v Haier, KZR 36/17 (2020).
  52. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (2021). Highlights of telecom subscription data as on 31st July 2021. Retrieved from https://www.trai.
  53. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson v CCI, (2016) W.P(C) No. 464 of 2014.
  54. United States v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300, 307 (1919).
  55. Unwired Planet v Huawei, EWCA Civ 2344 (2018).
  56. Unwired Planet v Huawei, UKSC 37 (2020).
  57. USPTO (2019). Policy statement on remedies for standards-essential patents subject to voluntary F/Rand commitments. Retrieved from https://www. files/documents/SEP%20policy%20statement% 20signed.pdf
  58. Verizon Communications Inc. v. Law Offices of Curtis V Trinko, LLP, 540 US 398. 416 (2004).
  59. Vives, X. (2008). Innovation and competitive pressure. The Journal of Industrial Economics, 3, 419-469. 6451.2008.00356.x
  60. WIPO (2014). Patent pools and antitrust - A comparative analysis. Retrieved from en/studies/patent_pools_report.pdf
  61. WIPO (n.d.). Standards and patents. Retrieved from https://www.wipo. int/patent-law/en/developments/standards.html Accessed 11 August 2022.