Connectivity is the core of all innovative solutions and a prerequisite for the "Internet of Things". The "Connected Car" is only the first example of how Continental intelligently networks machines and devices. The potential of special communication hardware and the underlying technologies extends far beyond the field of mobility.
To be able to use the possibilities of this networking via mobile radio, developers must rely on a multitude of interfaces and technical standards. Through the years, these standards have been jointly defined by the major players in the telecommunications industry. These players also systematically protected them with patents, so-called standard essential patents (SEPs), which protect even the smallest technical contributions.
Under European law, licenses for these SEPs must be granted to any interested company under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory conditions (FRAND). Anyone wishing to use them pays royalties as compensation. This only becomes problematic if the owners of the SEPs grant the relevant licenses only to selected companies.
This is the case, for example, with communication hardware for cars. However, it is precisely here that mobile radio standards are indispensable. Modern Turn Assist Systems for commercial vehicles, for example, increase road safety.
Unfortunately, some patent holders are slowing down this progress. They want to grant licenses only directly to car manufacturers and not to suppliers. Abusing the dominant position of SEP holders would bring serious disadvantages for everyone: it weakens competition, prevents innovation, and destroys future-proof jobs. That is why Continental is committing itself to an investigation of this licencing practice at European level.
Only if the right framework conditions are in place can all innovation drivers access standard essential patents on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. Only then will we be able to work together in Europe to realize such important issues as Vision Zero: a world in which no one will die on our roads thanks to intelligently networked vehicles.
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