November 27, 2017 / 12:09 PM / 4 months ago

EU patent fee guidelines to favour Qualcomm, Ericsson, others: sources

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU regulators are set to unveil patent fee guidelines which favour Qualcomm, Ericsson and other patent holders despite intense lobbying by Apple, German carmakers and other users, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

A sign on the Qualcomm campus is seen, as chip maker Broadcom Ltd announced an unsolicited bid to buy peer Qualcomm Inc for $103 billion, in San Diego, California, U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files

The move by the European Commission is part of a broader push to set new rules for internet-connected devices for cars, home automation and energy devices and not just for computers and smartphones.

The issue, in which trillions of dollars in sales are at stake, has pitted Qualcomm, Ericsson, Nokia and other patent owners against users such as Apple, Volkswagen, Daimler.

World No. 1 smartphone chip designer Qualcomm and Ericsson, use a patent fee model which predominates in the tech industry with royalties based on how much value a technology adds to a product.

The exterior of an Ericsson building is seen in Stockholm April 30, 2009. REUTERS/Bob Strong/Files

Apple, Google and others in Silicon Valley have criticised the model, saying fixed fees are fairer.

The Commission’s latest draft no longer has the phrase “licensing for all”, the sources said, a victory for Qualcomm as it removes the obligation on patent holders to provide patent licences to all companies asking for them.

A key sentence in an earlier proposal has also been deleted, people said. The sentence said that right holders could not unilaterally set prices according to the way in which a patent is used.

The Commission did not respond to a request for comment. The non-binding guidelines could provide a basis for future EU rules.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop

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