Recent developments in competition law and SEP licensing in Europe and their effect on the automotive industry

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The development of connected automobiles crystallizes the tensions between intellectual property law and competition law that have existed for years, particularly in the area of standard essential patents (SEPs). These SEPs are essential to standards that set the technical specifications defining requirements for products, production processes, services, or test-methods, and which cannot be designed around. European courts, legislatures, and regulatory bodies have been engaging in an evolving debate, often centered on the issue of what constitutes a “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND)” license.