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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Landscaping study of standard essential patents in Europe


This study provides unique statistical evidence on the importance of standard essential patents (SEPs) for key technologies in Europe. Based on a unique dataset, the report highlights trends at major standardisation bodies as well as the behaviours of SEP owners and information on their patent portfolio. Key evidence on the need and feasibility of essentiality checks for SEPs is also provided.

The study also offers insight on SEPs value and licensing patterns as well as on the timing of SEPs declarations and standard releases at SSOs.

The dataset used comes from declared standard essential patents published by major standardisation bodies (SSOs) worldwide.

Main findings

Trends at SSOs and patent holders

Over 70% of worldwide SEPs are declared at ETSI (European Telecommunication Standards Institute), underlining the importance of the European market. However, for key technologies in Europe, companies in Asia and the USA hold more SEPs and younger patent portfolios than European companies. European firms Nokia, Ericsson and Siemens file a large amount of SEPs, but American and Asian companies such as Qualcomm, InterDigital, Samsung, Huawei, Google and LG are also file heavily in Europe.


68% of SEPs are subject to FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms, 65% are subject to reciprocity rules and only 9% of SEPs are pooled.


SEPs have higher value and larger family size than other patents (28 vs. 16 for the control group).

Timing declaration

71% of all declared SEPs are granted after the final standard release with important differences amongst SSOs (e.g. 73% at ETSI, 20% at ISO and IEC).

Essentiality checks

The evidence collected suggests a strong case for more transparency. To be reliable, essentiality checks should be implemented after patent examination and first standard release. It can provide transparency and legal certainty to market players at reasonable cost, if implemented for future SEPs and only one patent within the family. Patent offices have the technical competencies, access to documents, industry recognition which allow them to perform these checks at reasonable cost.


This report shows the importance of SEPs in protecting and allowing the diffusion of key technologies in Europe. It provides unique empirical evidence on a number of key issues related to SEPs.

The study is part of the Commission's work to build on the existing IPR framework to enable easy and fair access to SEPs. This is described in the 2016 Communication, ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market.

The Commission intends to fully draw on these results in assessing the interplay between SEPs and standardisation in the EU Single Market.


12 DECEMBER 2016
Landscaping study on Standard Essential Patents