The IEEE Ill-Advised 2015 IP Policy Continues to Fail

The IEEE’s spectacularly misguided 2015 revisions to its IP policy continues to disappoint (I addressed them a number of times previously).   For those who are following the situation there are a number of interesting new developments:

  1. This week’s Trans-Atlantic press release by the Innovation Alliance/IP Europe urging removal of the imbalanced language in the 2015 patent policy. As noted, the European Commission and the USG have both expressed concern about the current policy.
  2. My recent IAM piece (available here) which highlights, among other things:
    • The crucial national security and US technological leadership aspects of this matter; and
    • The fact that in addition to the transatlantic concerns, there was, and continues to be, bipartisan concern with your policy as evidenced by this Senators letter as well as this letter from former Democratic and Republican former agency heads.
  3. The March PatCom meeting Minutes reveal that in Q1 2021, 14 of the 15 licensing LOAs received (one was a non-assert) – over 93% –  were submitted on the custom LOA form.  I.e., over 93% of licensor submitters preferred the pre-2015 policy. That is an overwhelming number.
  4. Rumor has it that Davis Wright Tremaine attorney Christoper Renner, who attended the March PatCom meeting, was hired by IEEE as outside counsel.  Mr. Renner joined his current firm in 2020, after many years of representing Apple at another firm (Boise Schiller). Furthermore, his current firm represents Microsoft and other known IEEE corporate members with “implementers” commercial interests/business models.  Mr. Renner’s refusal to disclose his real affiliation at the March PatCom meeting, and his firms’ current representation of Apple, suggest he may still currently be representing Apple and other IEEE corporate members (either directly or through their many-owned associations).  Such representation suggests a conflict of interest, and creates the optics of an imbalanced IEEE “taking sides” and taking positions against those of many of its corporate members (including the three largest contributors to 802.11).

If IEEE wants sound legal advice that takes its and its whole membership’s interests into consideration, it may want to consider hiring a lawyer representing business models that develop and contribute proprietary innovation to IEEE standards. Otherwise, the current problems are likely to just get worse.