Policies and Procedures

Comprehensive information about IEEE-SA governance, as well as links to relevant governing documents and boards and committees that support the standards development lifecyle.

IEEE-SA STANDARDS BOARD BYLAWS

6. Patents

6.1 Definitions
The following terms, when capitalized, have the following meanings:

"Accepted Letter of Assurance" and "Accepted LOA" shall mean a Letter of Assurance that the IEEE-SA has determined is complete in all material respects and has been posted to the IEEE-SA web site.

"Affiliate" shall mean an entity that directly or indirectly, through one or more intermediaries, controls the Submitter or Applicant, is controlled by the Submitter or Applicant, or is under common control with the Submitter or Applicant. For the purposes of this definition, the term “control” and its derivatives, with respect to for-profit entities, means the legal, beneficial or equitable ownership, directly or indirectly, of more than fifty percent (50%) of the capital stock (or other ownership interest, if not a corporation) of an entity ordinarily having voting rights. “Control” and its derivatives, with respect to nonprofit entities, means the power to elect or appoint more than fifty percent (50%) of the Board of Directors of an entity.

“Applicant" shall mean any prospective licensee for Essential Patent Claims. “Applicant” shall include all of its Affiliates.

"Blanket Letter of Assurance" shall mean a Letter of Assurance that applies to all Essential Patent Claims for which a Submitter may currently or in the future (except as otherwise provided for in these Bylaws and in the IEEE-SA Standards Board Operations Manual) have the ability to license.

“Compliant Implementation” shall mean any product (e.g., component, sub-assembly, or end-product) or service that conforms to any mandatory or optional portion of a normative clause of an IEEE Standard.

"Enabling Technology" shall mean any technology that may be necessary to make or use any product or portion thereof that complies with the IEEE Standard but is neither explicitly required by nor expressly set forth in the IEEE Standard (e.g., semiconductor manufacturing technology, compiler technology, object-oriented technology, basic operating system technology, and the like).

"Essential Patent Claim" shall mean any Patent Claim the practice of which was necessary to implement either a mandatory or optional portion of a normative clause of the IEEE Standard when, at the time of the IEEE Standard’s approval, there was no commercially and technically feasible non-infringing alternative implementation method for such mandatory or optional portion of the normative clause. An Essential Patent Claim does not include any Patent Claim that was essential only for Enabling Technology or any claim other than that set forth above even if contained in the same patent as the Essential Patent Claim.

"Letter of Assurance" and "LOA" shall mean a document, including any attachments, stating the Submitter's position regarding ownership, enforcement, or licensing of Essential Patent Claims for a specifically referenced IEEE Standard, submitted in a form PDf format acceptable to the IEEE-SA.

"Patent Claim(s)" shall mean one or more claims in issued patent(s) or pending patent application(s).

“Prohibitive Order” shall mean an interim or permanent injunction, exclusion order, or similar adjudicative directive that limits or prevents making, having made, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing a Compliant Implementation.

"Reasonable and Good Faith Inquiry" includes, but is not limited to, a Submitter using reasonable efforts to identify and contact those individuals who are from, employed by, or otherwise represent the Submitter and who are known to the Submitter to be current or past participants in the development process of the [Proposed] IEEE Standard identified in a Letter of Assurance, including, but not limited to, participation in a Sponsor Ballot or Working Group. If the Submitter did not or does not have any participants, then a Reasonable and Good Faith Inquiry may include, but is not limited to, the Submitter using reasonable efforts to contact individuals who are from, employed by, or represent the Submitter and who the Submitter believes are most likely to have knowledge about the technology covered by the [Proposed] IEEE Standard.

“Reasonable Rate” shall mean appropriate compensation to the patent holder for the practice of an Essential Patent Claim excluding the value, if any, resulting from the inclusion of that Essential Patent Claim’s technology in the IEEE Standard. In addition, determination of such Reasonable Rates should include, but need not be limited to, the consideration of:

  • The value that the functionality of the claimed invention or inventive feature within the Essential Patent Claim contributes to the value of the relevant functionality of the smallest saleable Compliant Implementation that practices the Essential Patent Claim.
  • The value that the Essential Patent Claim contributes to the smallest saleable Compliant Implementation that practices that claim, in light of the value contributed by all Essential Patent Claims for the same IEEE Standard practiced in that Compliant Implementation.
  • Existing licenses covering use of the Essential Patent Claim, where such licenses were not obtained under the explicit or implicit threat of a Prohibitive Order, and where the circumstances and resulting licenses are otherwise sufficiently comparable to the circumstances of the contemplated license.

“Reciprocal Licensing” shall mean that the Submitter of an LOA has conditioned its granting of a license for its Essential Patent Claims upon the Applicant’s agreement to grant a license to the Submitter with Reasonable Rates and other reasonable licensing terms and conditions to the Applicant’s Essential Patent Claims, if any, for the referenced IEEE Standard, including any amendments, corrigenda, editions, and revisions. If an LOA references an amendment or corrigendum, the scope of reciprocity includes the base IEEE Standard and its amendments, corrigenda, editions, and revisions.

"Statement of Encumbrance" shall mean a specific reference to an Accepted LOA or a general statement in the transfer or assignment agreement that the Patent Claim(s) being transferred or assigned are subject to any encumbrances that may exist as of the effective date of such agreement. An Accepted LOA is an encumbrance.

"Submitter" shall mean an individual or an organization that provides a completed Letter of Assurance. A Submitter may or may not hold Essential Patent Claims. “Submitter” shall include all of its Affiliates unless specifically and permissibly excluded.

6.2 Policy
IEEE standards may be drafted in terms that include the use of Essential Patent Claims. If the IEEE receives notice that a [Proposed] IEEE Standard may require the use of a potential Essential Patent Claim, the IEEE shall request licensing assurance, on the IEEE-SA Standards Board approved Letter of Assurance form PDf format, from the patent holder or patent applicant. The IEEE shall request this assurance without coercion.

The Submitter of a Letter of Assurance may, after Reasonable and Good Faith Inquiry, indicate it is not aware of any Patent Claims that the Submitter may own, control, or have the ability to license that might be or become Essential Patent Claims. If the patent holder or patent applicant provides an LOA, it should do so as soon as reasonably feasible in the standards development process once the PAR is approved by the IEEE-SA Standards Board. This LOA should be provided prior to the Standards Board’s approval of the standard. An asserted potential Essential Patent Claim for which licensing assurance cannot be obtained (e.g., an LOA is not provided or the LOA indicates that licensing assurance is not being provided) shall be referred to the Patent Committee.

The licensing assurance shall be either:

a) A general disclaimer to the effect that the Submitter without conditions will not enforce any present or future Essential Patent Claims against any person or entity making, having made, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing any Compliant Implementation that practices the Essential Patent Claims for use in conforming with the IEEE Standard; or,

b) A statement that the Submitter will make available a license for Essential Patent Claims to an unrestricted number of Applicants on a worldwide basis without compensation or under Reasonable Rates, with other reasonable terms and conditions that are demonstrably free of any unfair discrimination to make, have made, use, sell, offer to sell, or import any Compliant Implementation that practices the Essential Patent Claims for use in conforming with the IEEE Standard. An Accepted LOA that contains such a statement signifies that reasonable terms and conditions, including without compensation or under Reasonable Rates, are sufficient compensation for a license to use those Essential Patent Claims and precludes seeking, or seeking to enforce, a Prohibitive Order except as provided in this policy.

At its sole option, the Submitter may provide with its Letter of Assurance any of the following: (i) a not-to-exceed license fee or rate commitment, (ii) a sample license agreement, or (iii) one or more material licensing terms.

An Accepted Letter of Assurance shall apply to the Submitter, including its Affiliates. The Submitter, however, may specifically exclude certain Affiliates identified in the Letter of Assurance, except that a Submitter shall have no ability to exclude Affiliates if the Submitter has indicated Reciprocal Licensing on an Accepted Letter of Assurance.

The Submitter shall not condition a license on the Applicant’s agreeing (a) to grant a license to any of the Applicant’s Patent Claims that are not Essential Patent Claims for the referenced IEEE standard, or (b) to take a license for any of the Submitter’s Patent Claims that are not Essential Patent Claims for the referenced IEEE standard.

On a Letter of Assurance, the Submitter may indicate a condition of Reciprocal Licensing. If an Applicant requires compensation under Reciprocal Licensing to its Essential Patent Claims, then a Submitter may require compensation for its Essential Patent Claims from that Applicant even if the Submitter has otherwise indicated that it would make licenses available without compensation.

The Submitter and all Affiliates (other than those Affiliates excluded in a Letter of Assurance) shall not, with the intent of circumventing or negating any of the representations and commitments made in the Accepted Letter of Assurance, assign or otherwise transfer any rights in any Essential Patent Claims that they hold, control, or have the ability to license and for which licensing assurance was provided on the Accepted Letter of Assurance.

An Accepted Letter of Assurance is intended to be binding upon any and all assignees and transferees of any Essential Patent Claim covered by such LOA. The Submitter agrees (a) to provide notice of an Accepted Letter of Assurance either through a Statement of Encumbrance or by binding its assignee or transferee to the terms of such Letter of Assurance; and (b) to require its assignee or transferee to (i) agree to similarly provide such notice and (ii) to bind its assignees or transferees to agree to provide such notice as described in (a) and (b).

The Submitter and the Applicant should engage in good faith negotiations (if sought by either party) without unreasonable delay or may litigate or, with the parties’ mutual agreement, arbitrate: over patent validity, enforceability, essentiality, or infringement; Reasonable Rates or other reasonable licensing terms and conditions; compensation for unpaid past royalties or a future royalty rate; any defenses or counterclaims; or any other related issues.

The Submitter of an Accepted LOA who has committed to make available a license for one or more Essential Patent Claims agrees that it shall neither seek nor seek to enforce a Prohibitive Order based on such Essential Patent Claim(s) in a jurisdiction unless the implementer fails to participate in, or to comply with the outcome of, an adjudication, including an affirming first-level appellate review, if sought by any party within applicable deadlines, in that jurisdiction by one or more courts that have the authority to: determine Reasonable Rates and other reasonable terms and conditions; adjudicate patent validity, enforceability, essentiality, and infringement; award monetary damages; and resolve any defenses and counterclaims. In jurisdictions where the failure to request a Prohibitive Order in a pleading waives the right to seek a Prohibitive Order at a later time, a Submitter may conditionally plead the right to seek a Prohibitive Order to preserve its right to do so later, if and when this policy’s conditions for seeking, or seeking to enforce, a Prohibitive Order are met.

Nothing in this policy shall preclude a Submitter and an implementer from agreeing to arbitrate over patent validity, enforceability, essentiality, or infringement; Reasonable Rates or other reasonable licensing terms and conditions; compensation for unpaid past royalties or a future royalty rate; any defenses or counterclaims; reciprocal obligations; or any other issues that the parties choose to arbitrate.

Nothing in this policy shall preclude a licensor and licensee from voluntarily negotiating any license under terms mutually agreeable to both parties.

If a Submitter becomes aware of additional Patent Claim(s) that are not already covered by an Accepted Letter of Assurance, that are owned, controlled, or licensable by the Submitter, and that may be or become Essential Patent Claim(s) for the same IEEE Standard, then such Submitter shall submit a Letter of Assurance stating its position regarding enforcement or licensing of such Patent Claims. For the purposes of this commitment, the Submitter is deemed to be aware if any of the following individuals who are from, employed by, or otherwise represent the Submitter have personal knowledge of additional potential Essential Patent Claims, owned or controlled by the Submitter, related to a [Proposed] IEEE Standard and not already the subject of a previously Accepted Letter of Assurance: (a) past or present participants in the development of the [Proposed] IEEE Standard, or (b) the individual executing the previously Accepted Letter of Assurance.

A Letter of Assurance is irrevocable once submitted and accepted and shall apply, at a minimum, from the date of the standard's approval to the date of the standard's transfer to inactive status.

Copies of an Accepted Letter of Assurance may be provided to participants in a standards development meeting. Discussion of essentiality, interpretation, or validity of Patent Claims is prohibited during IEEE-SA standards-development meetings or other duly authorized IEEE-SA standards-development technical activities. IEEE-SA shall provide procedures stating when and the extent to which patent licensing terms may be discussed (see subclause 5.3.10 of the IEEE-SA Standards Board Operations Manual).

The IEEE is not responsible for
1. Identifying Essential Patent Claims for which a license may be required;
2. Determining the validity, essentiality, or interpretation of Patent Claims;
3. Determining whether any licensing terms or conditions provided in connection with submission of a Letter of Assurance, if any, or in any licensing agreements are reasonable or non-discriminatory; or,
4. Determining whether an implementation is a Compliant Implementation.

Nothing in this policy shall be interpreted as giving rise to a duty to conduct a patent search. No license is implied by the submission of a Letter of Assurance.

In order for IEEE’s patent policy to function efficiently, individuals participating in the standards development process: (a) shall inform the IEEE (or cause the IEEE to be informed) of the holder of any potential Essential Patent Claims of which they are personally aware and that are not already the subject of an Accepted Letter of Assurance, that are owned or controlled by the participant or the entity the participant is from, employed by, or otherwise represents; and (b) should inform the IEEE (or cause the IEEE to be informed) of any other holders of potential Essential Patent Claims that are not already the subject of an Accepted Letter of Assurance.

7. Copyright
All contributions to IEEE standards development or Industry Connection activities (whether for an individual or entity group) shall meet the requirements outlined in this clause.

7.1 Definitions
The following terms, when capitalized, have the following meanings:

"Public Domain" shall mean material that is no longer under copyright protection or did not meet the requirements for copyright protection.

"Published" shall mean material for which a claim of copyright is apparent (e.g., the presence of the copyright symbol ©; an explicit statement of copyright ownership or intellectual property rights; stated permission to use text; a text reference that indicates the insertion of text excerpted from a copyrighted work; or a visual indication of an excerpt from another work, such as indented text).

"Work Product" shall mean the compilation of or collective work of all participants (e.g., a draft standard; the final approved standard; draft Industry Connections white paper; Industry Connections web site).

7.2 Policy
The IEEE owns the copyright in all Work Products.

Participants are solely responsible for determining whether disclosure of any contributions that they submit to the IEEE requires the prior consent of other parties and, if so, to obtain it.

7.2.1 Contributions from previously Published sources
All contributions from previously Published sources that are not Public Domain shall be accompanied by a Copyright Permission Form that is completed by the copyright owner, or by a person with the authority or right to grant copyright permission. The Copyright Permission Form shall outline the specific material being used and the planned context for its usage in the Work Product.

7.2.2 Contributions not previously Published
For any contribution that has not been previously Published, and that is not Public Domain:

a) The IEEE has the non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide rights (i.e., a license) to use the contribution in connection with the development of the Work Product for which the contribution was made.

b) Upon (i) approval of the standard; or (ii) final release or publication of a Work Product by an Industry Connections activity, the IEEE has the right to exploit and grant permission to use the Work Product’s content derived from the contribution in any format or media without restriction.

Copyright ownership of the original contribution is not transferred or assigned to the IEEE.

8. Modifications to the IEEE-SA Standards Board Bylaws
Proposed modifications to these bylaws may be submitted to the IEEE-SA Standards Board Procedures Committee (ProCom) for its consideration. Proposed modifications that have been agreed to by ProCom shall be submitted to the IEEE-SA Standards Board for recommendation to forward to the IEEE-SA BOG for approval (see clause 5.1 of the IEEE Standards Association Operations Manual).

Modifications to these bylaws and the reasons therefor shall be mailed to all members of the IEEE-SA Standards Board at least 30 days before the IEEE-SA Standards Board meeting where the vote on these modifications shall be taken. Two-thirds of the voting Board members present at the meeting shall be required to approve any modifications.

These bylaws shall be reviewed by legal counsel.

8.1 Interpretations of the IEEE-SA Standards Board Bylaws
Requests for interpretations of this document shall be directed to the Secretary of the IEEE-SA Standards Board. The Secretary of the Board shall respond to the request within 30 days of receipt. Such response shall indicate a specified time limit when such an interpretation will be forthcoming. The time limit shall be no longer than is reasonable to allow consideration of and recommendations on the issue by, for example, the Procedures Committee of the IEEE-SA Standards Board. The interpretation shall be delivered by the Chair of the Procedures Committee after ProCom discussion provided that at least 75% of the committee agrees. The IEEE-SA Standards Board shall be notified of these results. If less than 75% of the committee agrees, or if any single committee member requests, the issue shall be deferred to the next regularly scheduled IEEE-SA Standards Board meeting for the full Board to decide.