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Charlene M. Morrow
Tammi L. Hill

Technology companies often join standard setting organizations (SSOs) to impact the direction their industry takes on technologies important to system integration or interoperability. As part of the process, members of the SSO may make a FRAND commitment, a promise to license patents essential to implementing the adopted standard on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

With patent assertions on standards-related patents growing more common, complex legal issues have arisen relating to those commitments. In Microsoft Corp. v. Motorola Inc., currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit, two technology giants have spent years facing off over FRAND commitments. The Ninth Circuit is poised to decide several issues, some of which could help clarify the scope and power of FRAND commitments and SSOs.

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