Marconi women in IP: innovation, collaboration and solution-driven

For World IP Day 2023, which has a focus on women and IP, we celebrate some of the women at Marconi, who are working in careers accelerating innovation and creativity in IP. In this article, Bing Zhao, our Asia Communications Manager, profiles three of her colleagues from around the globe.

The world of intellectual (IP) exists at the intersection of two traditionally male-dominated areas: law and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). While education and practices in the two spheres may have their own challenges, individual organizations which operate in the IP sector certainly have the power and responsibility to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for women in IP.

As a leader in creating solutions to simplify patent licensing and facilitate technology sharing, Marconi has built a global team, spanning time zones and cultures, to be close to our customers both in diversity and geographically.

Marconi women across three continents have contributed tremendously to our success, with their unique and valuable perspectives. We’d like to introduce you to three of them and let them share their stories of working in IP.

Marianne Frydenlund
Oslo, Norway

Marianne has been interested in pursuing an interdisciplinary career combining technology and law since she graduated from law school. Her first encounter with intellectual property was observing a supplier in the oil industry who customized a generic product to fit their client’s specific requirements, which led to inventing new solutions that could be patented.

Her involvement in IP deepened during her tenure as Senior Vice President, Legal and Compliance at a Norwegian chipset and module manufacturer. She saw that there was controversy around indemnification in the supply chain, together with challenges in addressing the subject in distribution agreements. She spent a year renegotiating the company’s distribution agreements, which began a journey of SEP education with potential customers. This created opportunities for the company to collaborate creatively with patent owners, setting it apart from many other module manufacturers.

During those years, Marianne spoke with numerous IoT implementers of all sizes, concluding that the IoT industry would benefit tremendously from simple and efficient joint patent licensing solutions provided by independent platforms. That realization led her to join Avanci, where she is currently leading and developing innovative licensing solutions for IoT beyond automotive.

“Making industry led solutions is not a walk in the park, it is more like an ultra-run!” For our programs to work, we need to listen, contemplate, and understand considerations and priorities from both sides in order to find a solution representing a compromise to be endorsed by industries. “The size of these puzzles we are trying to piece together is perhaps what makes it feel even better when we succeed. Being inspired and encouraged by how my colleagues have found a successful solution for the automotive industry through the Avanci Vehicle platform, I am very optimistic for my IoT programs.”

Besides finding an industry solution, Marianne is also very passionate about mentorship for women, saying “as women, we should support and lift each other up.” This is exemplified by her deep involvement in the Norwegian community, mentoring young girls to explore technology and advance in IP and legal careers. “I feel grateful to have a great female manager who guides and supports me. We need to be good role models for other females in the company and in the industry.”

Marianne believes that challenge is key in cultivating strength and happiness. “Human beings are generally happier if they have problems to solve. Overcoming challenges and solving problems offers a sense of joy.” If challenges are being disregarded or removed, we would not feel happier, most likely the opposite. “We grow, evolve, and develop through challenges, which is the case with my job. No two days are the same. I am having fun trying to find solutions for the industry, speaking extensively with IoT product companies as well as patent owners.”

Yui Mitsuta
Tokyo, Japan

Yui’s first awareness of IP started with anti-counterfeiting products. Prior to embarking on her career in a major Japanese technology company, she studied IP law and her interest in IP expanded into innovation and patents. One project which Yui was deeply involved in during her previous role meant working with Avanci from outside. The Japanese firm’s automotive business unit and its R&D had differing views on joining the Avanci Vehicle platform, which were ultimately resolved and resulted in the company becoming the first licensor with an automotive industry background to join Avanci Vehicle 4G. That experience of bridging business and R&D units was meaningful and memorable and is extremely helpful for her current role in Marconi, where she is a local interface to our Japanese partners.

She took great pleasure in developing and strengthening relationships with customers, in particular when helping licensees understand the benefits of our independent joint licensing platforms. “My support on the ground in Japan helps us and customers, which give me a great sense of joy and pride.”

A crucial but challenging part of operating a joint patent licensing platform is reliance on support from licensee and licensor partners. “It is almost impossible for us to complete a project by ourselves.” Admittedly, it is key to successfully establishing relationships and continuously nurturing cooperations.

Working in IP usually requires a combination of technical and legal skills. It takes time to harness and sharpen both skills. Women are gradually making inroads into this male-dominated fraternity, especially with a gradual rise of women IP leaders and inventors in the electronics sector. But female IP leaders and inventors are still rare in other sectors in Japan.

Yui sees the growth of patent licensing would bring more opportunities for women to be leaders in IP. She believes that women can have better instincts and more advantages in pool licensing, given that the latter requires more cooperation with others across a large group of companies, compared to bilateral licensing. In her experience, women tend to be more communicative, considerate, and collaborative.

Another appeal to hopefully draw more women into IP is the flexibility and freedom. “IP related work is fairly flexible, and it is not always restricted to working in a fixed location, so it is easy to keep work and life in balance.”

Maria Sekul
Dallas, US

Maria combines her extensive knowledge of patent office practice with in-house engineering experience to build and identify strategic portfolios. Starting as a software telecommunications engineer, Maria recounts that a 3G wireless R&D project introduced her to corporate IP patent strategy from an inventor perspective. She pivoted to patent law after finishing law school.

Her professional journey in IP started at the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) as a patent examiner, which she describes as the hardest job, but also the best experience. Subsequently, she moved to a boutique IP firm, gaining in-depth experience in patent prosecution as a patent attorney. This led to an in-house position at a company with a strong patent portfolio and successful licensing program, where patent prosecution and the assertion and monetization of IP were merged. 

This ultimately led to her role at Marconi, where she brings all that experience into play. As a registered patent attorney, Maria applies her technical expertise to patent application and prosecution, patent portfolio analysis and related matters.

“It’s interesting to understand the concepts and ideas behind the technology of future products and also get an insight into what the future holds,” says Maria. “That is particularly so with telecommunications, where IP is filed on inventions years before it becomes available to the public.” 

Though Maria has worked in a variety of roles, one thing remains constant – women remain dramatically underrepresented in the patent world. “There is definitely room for more women in IP, and especially patent attorneys. In other types of IP practice (trademarks, copyright, litigation), while you need a law degree, a STEM background is not required, and I do see more women practicing in those areas.”

Marconi was founded on a vision of transforming patent licensing, of doing things differently, of challenging accepted wisdom and conventional norms. As part of this, we recognize the value of creating a diverse workplace, one which reflects the diversity of markets and industries that we serve and of our customers around the world. As we continue to grow, we want to ensure that we explore diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that can support our vision.

Marconi, together with its Avanci and Innovius businesses, is proud to have joined to support their programs and initiatives to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within the intellectual property profession.

Giving Back

Since founding Marconi in 2017, we’ve believed that it is important for us to enable employees to participate in and give back to the communities in which they live and work. One way we do this is through our matching gift program, in which we match employees’ personal donations to eligible charitable organizations. This allows people to support causes that are meaningful to them, whether national or international, or local to where they live and work. Many of our team members also volunteer their time and expertise to such organizations, and to date we have distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars through this program.

From time to time, we also organize Marconi Cares events, where we work as a team to support individual causes. In the past, we have worked to create packages of supplies at the North Texas Food Bank to pack bundles of food for distribution..

A couple of weeks ago, 30 of us volunteered for our latest Marconi Cares initiative, at the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid in Dallas. We helped prepare a shipment of shoes destined for Kenya through their Shoes for Orphan Souls initiative, which since 1999 has distributed more than four million pairs of shoes and socks to children in 83 countries. We were pleased to learn more about their important work and the privilege to contribute our labor as a team.

As a company which operates around the world, with employees spanning 10 nationalities, this effort resonated with us and, coincidentally, we had several overseas employees in town with us who joined their Dallas colleagues in volunteering.

We are proud of their efforts and are committed to being a great corporate citizen throughout the world!

Building a World Class Team

When we founded Marconi five years ago, we had a clear vision of transforming patent licensing. We knew that licensing patents could be – indeed, would need to be – simpler and more efficient. We also knew that, to make that happen, we would have to build a strong team, bringing together many of the world’s leading experts, with experience in getting licensing deals done.

Since then, we’ve done just that. Our senior leaders have hundreds of years of collective experience, gained at some of the world’s leading companies, both patent owners and implementers, including Ericsson, Google, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Samsung. To support them, we built expert teams of finance, human resources, legal and technical people, all of whom had risen to the top of their respective disciplines.

Given all of that, it is gratifying when others recognize the strength of our team. Our CEO, Kasim Alfalahi, is listed in both Managing IP’s 50 Most Influential People in IP and in the top 10 of IAM’s Top 40 Market Makers list. Laurie Fitzgerald, SVP Licensing at our Avanci business, was named among the Most Influential Women in IP by World IP Review.

More recently, twelve of our global team members are also listed in IAM’s Strategy 300 Global Leaders, which recognizes the leading professionals in IP – I know of no other organization with such strong results. Importantly, nominations for that list must come from outside of the individual’s organization.

In no small part because of our strong team, our Avanci business was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, joining prior recipients including Airbnb, Google, Spotify and Twitter.

Such recognition, especially from our peers, is both humbling and motivating. We take nothing for granted and will continue to work to maintain the trust and respect of all those we work with every day. To everyone that voted for us, thank you!

IAM: It’s time for a new approach to codec licensing

Next-generation codecs are not only technologically superior but also better for the environment. The IP industry needs to solve the problems that are holding back their adoption, argues Micky Minhas of Marconi.

Video streaming for entertainment and communication is now an integral part of our daily lives. The pandemic introduced millions of new people to Zoom, Teams, YouTube and Netflix who are continuing to rely on them as the world cycles in and out of lockdowns. Video’s importance in our lives will only increase as more video-focused products and services get off the drawing board for us to consume, from 360-degree video gaming to virtual health consultations to remote control of vehicles and drones, and more. There are already over 10 billion active devices for streaming video worldwide and video accounts for more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic.

The rails on the track for all this video are the codecs that enable raw footage to be compressed into data that we can share and view. But while the applications for video are the bleeding edge of technology, most of it runs on rails that are straight out of the early 2000s. Eighty percent of all internet-delivered video is encoded using Advanced Video Coding (AVC or H.264), a standard released 18 years ago, when MySpace was the most advanced social media platform. Its slightly younger sibling High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC / H.265) has been around for eight years as a standard, but it isn’t being implemented as widely for encoding video, even though it is twice as efficient as AVC. The progress keeps coming; ten months ago, a new standard was finalized. Using the new Versatile Video Coding (VVC / H.266) codec delivers the same level of picture quality with up to 50% improvement in video coding efficiency compared to HEVC. As we see video resolution increased from HD to 4K and 8K, without continual improvement in video compression, then the amount of data needed to transmit video would expand exponentially.

Aging codecs may seem like an arcane concern, something that only cinephiles and hardcore gamers need to worry about. But such a view couldn’t be more wrong. Our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them are predicted by 2025 to make up 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions, as much as all the world’s cars. Enabling more video streaming to use hyper-efficient VVC could save billions of tonnes of carbon each year. Better compression will mean lower demands on cloud computing data centers, which mostly rely on fossil fuel power to ensure reliability. It could also reduce the need for semiconductors, which have overtaken auto as one of the world’s worst polluting industries; Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s go-to chipmaker, produced a third more carbon than General Motors in 2019.

This seems such an obvious win, so why isn’t it happening? The ubiquity of AVC is partly because billions of older devices for streaming video can only support AVC decoding, but that doesn’t explain it all. The truth is that intellectual property and licensing failures are holding back the adoption of newer, better codecs.

Current patent pools are disaggregated and generally license one standard at a time, meaning that any device or service needing to work across multiple standards will need several licences.

They also tend to focus all licensing efforts on the consumer product manufacturers, so that the cost is not borne fairly across the ecosystem. Cloud and streaming services are big beneficiaries of codec technologies. Newer, better codecs dramatically reduce their storage requirements and provide ultra-high resolution videos without buffering or latency issues, enhancing the services that they charge users to watch or sell advertisements around. At present, these companies are not contributing to the cost of the codec technologies they rely on.

Many or most existing IP licensing organisations and pools also have an impartiality problem. A heritage of being owned by or closer to licensees or licensors, or simply having one side more in control of revenues and rules of engagement, makes it impossible to agree on the impartial, balanced terms that the industry needs to move forward.

This situation puts adoption of the new VVC standard at risk even before it enters the marketplace. The evidence from the HEVC experience is clear – continued fragmentation in licensing will likely be a significant barrier to wide acceptance of the VVC standard. Now is the time for a new approach in video licensing, leap-frogging the constraints of current models and reflecting how the video ecosystem has evolved.

So, what would the perfect licensing solution look like? Well, it needs to reflect how codecs are used now, rather than how they were used twenty years ago. It should have the potential to encompass multiple standards and avoid stacking multiple royalties. It should license at multiple points in the video encoding, decoding and transcoding ecosystem that are realising value from video coding standards, including streaming and cloud-based services, and not just end user devices. It should also be independently managed, open to companies from across the video ecosystem, and balance the needs of licensees and licensors.

The time is right for change. There is potential for a more comprehensive and fair approach in the video codec space, fit for how the video ecosystem has evolved.

Micky Minhas is Senior Vice President at Marconi and Professor of Intellectual Property at UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law. His previous roles include Vice President, Associate General Counsel, Patents at Microsoft and VP Patent Strategy at Qualcomm.

Originally published by IAM.

Patent licensing in the time of Corona

For most of us, regardless of industry or sector, the pandemic has transformed the way we work. This is especially true for the IP industry, which had to adapt quickly to a new way or working. While it is easy to think of forced changes as negative, there are several positive learnings I take from the global lockdown experience.

Technology changed the meaning of face-to-face meetings

Tools such as Teams and Zoom allowed global licensing efforts to not just continue but thrive. Before the pandemic, face-to-face meetings were expected and de rigeur at all stages of negotiation whether it was initial introductions, technical discussions, or business discussions. Everything was in-person, even if it meant, as it so often did, traveling to Asia for a single two-hour meeting.

Prior to March 2020, conventional wisdom said that these meetings were a necessity because complicated discussions, sensitive conversations, and negotiations involving hundreds of millions of dollars simply could not be done over the phone or by video. (The irony of an industry that created the world’s most important technologies not relying on those very technologies to get business done was not lost on me!)

This all changed with the pandemic, however, and while in-person meetings will inevitably resume, we have all become more comfortable with video meetings and appreciate the time and cost-efficiency of not losing a week to attend a meeting on the other side of the world. Of course, some meetings will still need to be done face-to-face, but in the future not every meeting in a licensing negotiation cycle will require teams to sit across the table from each other.

Leveraging the power of local expertise

As an international company, we have always recognized the importance of having team members located in key jurisdictions around the world, but the benefits of these relationships paid huge dividends during the pandemic. Unable to travel, we relied more than ever on having expert licensing professionals that we hired in local markets to provide a bridge so that we could continue to serve our clients.

Although our headquarters are in the US, our hiring during the pandemic was almost exclusively in other countries, so that we could make our international teams more robust. This strategy yielded one of our best years ever and inspired our continued commitment to expansion throughout Europe and Asia.

The importance of relationships during uncertain times

While we relied more on technology and new team members, the pandemic demonstrated the importance of our existing relationships with licensors and licensees. The trust and respect that our expert team had earned over the course of decades provided a solid foundation that allowed virtual deal-making to take place. Without this important foundation, perhaps no amount of technology or additional headcount could overcome the challenges of complex licensing.

Looking to the future

The pandemic created a boom in the electronics and telecom sectors as well as the need for additional innovation and associated licensing. I am proud of the way our industry was able to quickly pivot so that the gears of the machinery of international IP licensing continued to operate smoothly. While I look forward to resuming face-to-face meetings and conferences, I also look forward to continuing to enjoy the time and cost efficiencies resulting from the improved ways of doing business which the pandemic necessitated.

Hosik Jang, global IP leader, joins Marconi to lead business in Korea

March 9, 2021, Dallas, Texas – Marconi announced that Hosik Jang has joined as Senior Vice President, South Korea, to spearhead the company’s efforts in the country. Hosik joins other IP leaders formerly with Ericsson, Google, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Qualcomm as part of the global Marconi management team.

Marconi is establishing an office in Seoul, expanding its footprint in Asia and complementing existing teams in Beijing, China and Tokyo, Japan to support innovative companies across the region.

Kasim Alfalahi, chief executive officer of Marconi, said: “We are delighted to welcome Hosik to Marconi, as we continue to transform how patent licensing is done and bring more efficiency to the way companies share technologies. Hosik is a highly respected leader in the IP industry with substantial experience and is a valuable addition to our team.”

Hosik joins Marconi from Samsung, where his 35-year career included leadership roles across all areas of intellectual property matters, including litigation, arbitration, patent licensing, asset acquisition, and strategy. Most recently he was senior vice president for IP Licensing at Samsung’s IP Center.

Hosik Jang, senior vice president at Marconi, said: “I am excited to join the talented team at Marconi and help grow our business with companies in South Korea. Marconi has pioneered many new approaches, finding solutions that work for both licensees and licensors, and helping to accelerate innovation.”

Hosik holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics from Yonsei University in Seoul, and a Master’s in Intellectual Property from the University of New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce School of Law.


About Marconi

With a vision of transforming the fundamentals of patent licensing, Marconi provides a better way to share patented technology.

We create and support premier platforms and programs to simplify patent licensing across new and existing technologies and product areas, creating value and helping bring products to market faster and more efficiently. This ensures continued investments in innovation and provides an efficient exchange to bring those innovations to market, reducing risks and costs.

Our established marketplaces – Avanci, Velos Media, Teletry and Innovius – span innovations from world leaders in technology development, with the goal of driving efficiency and predictability. Marconi supports each of our platforms and programs with legal, finance, human resources, marketing and communications.


Mark Durrant
Director, Marketing & Communications
+1 469-480-2558

Top tips on portfolio management

With more than 200 years of experience in IP management between our senior leaders, we’re often asked for our thoughts on managing a patent portfolio. Here are some of our collected thoughts:

  • The five questions any portfolio manager should be able to answer
    A patent portfolio should be managed in broadly the same way as any other portfolio of assets, such as real estate. So, you need to decide:
    1. How much to invest
    2. How to allocate investment between different assets and different geographies
    3. How to generate the appropriate assets (whether through your own R&D or external acquisitions)
    4. How to get a return from your investment (whether in licensing revenue or in better returns for your own products or services)
    5. When to stop investment into certain assets in the portfolio
  • Set your goal and stick to it
    Whether it is set up as a defensive or monetization portfolio, the same guiding principles remain, you need to ensure that each patent or family is achieving the overall goals that you have set.
  • Build your infrastructure
    To manage IP assets effectively you need to have the mechanics in place to work effectively. In practice, this mean identifying how to best work with patent offices and agencies, how to resource internal operations, what IT tools to use, how to best organize your activities and responsibilities, and what competencies are needed. You also need portfolio indicators which enable you to measure the how and where.
  • Get the application phase right
    It’s much easier to adjust patent scope during the application process. This the critical time to get the patent right and ensure it is not too narrow or too broad. As you develop the patent through the process you need to always focus on infringement, regardless of whether the patent is standard essential or non-standard essential. Even when possible, it’s much more difficult to change a patent after approval so spend time and resources getting it right before hand.
  • Discriminate
    Not all patents or patent families have the same value. The mistake some companies with large portfolios make is to treat all their patents equally, spending the same costs and resources in the process. Some patents will have high value, some will be of less value but worth maintaining, and others will have little or no value. Spending should reflect the benefit the patents represent to the business. To use a real estate metaphor – some homes you buy to develop further, some homes are fine as they stand and are there to be lived in, and some need to be sold (or condemned).
  • Beware of silos
    Often in large companies or with large portfolios, there may be a disconnect between teams responsible for portfolio management and for realizing the portfolio benefits (such as product creation, patent monetization, etc.) as different managers oversee different specialisms. It’s really important is for each team to understand the impact that the decisions they make could have on other parts of the business.
  • AI: proceed with caution
    Artificial Intelligence can be useful for mining massive portfolios and prioritizing work. AI can filter data and provide a level of analysis, which can help guide human analysis. But it also has limitations. Many similar patents use differing terminology. AI has difficulty picking up on nuances, or contexts, and will exclude some patents which meet the right criteria and identify others which don’t. In short, it won’t replace human analysis, but can be a helpful tool for prioritizing where to use human analysis.
  • Play the long game
    Portfolios need to be managed pro-actively. Most IP assets generate value only after 7-10 years and assets are valuable only if somebody uses them (whether by you in your own products or by somebody else in theirs). Some assets have current value, some assets may have prospective value, and others may need active steps to promote their use, such as in standardization.

On the radar: IP licensing trends for the new decade

Our senior leaders at Marconi have more than 200 years’ collective experience in licensing IP. Just a few weeks into a new decade, we captured some of their predictions for all things patent licensing in the year ahead:

  • Pressure to realize the value of intellectual property: As the business effects of the global pandemic bite, we expect to see even more focus on adding revenue streams. While many companies are already exploring how to use their data, we believe that monetizing intellectual property is going to be a stronger focus in more boardrooms this year.
  • A continuation of IP nationalism: The global litigation environment will continue to develop and the trend for national courts to try to set global FRAND rates is rising, whether in Germany, the UK, China or the Eastern District of Texas. With no supranational organization having the jurisdiction to set a global rate, using national courts will continue to be a tactic for parties on both sides of IP disputes. While this adds complexity, over the long term the willingness of companies to go to court is slowly making legal positions clearer, although that is little comfort to IP professionals who just want to make good deals in the meantime.
  • More consequences for ‘holding out’: German and UK courts have showed a willingness in recent years to issue injunctive relief – and other sanctions for improper behaviour- against implementers that have declined FRAND license offers or refused to negotiate in good faith. Will courts and government agencies in other countries, such as the U.S., follow their lead, and will this be enough to undermine the incentives for “hold out”?
  • Evolving qualifications for patent professionals. The use of cloud-based analytics in patent portfolio management has been talked about for years. Whether it breaks through as the prevailing methods or not, mastery of a range of analytics tools will increasingly be a part of the professional requirements. Likewise, the push for in house IP teams to generate income will only add to the need for a more proactive and entrepreneurial approach across the industry.
  • A breakthrough year for licensing platforms? An influx of new licensors will add complexity and we believe will make patent pools, platforms and other forms of collective licensing even more important. For Marconi and the licensing businesses we support, working with companies around the world to make the licensing process efficient and mutually rewarding for all is our driving force.

Do you agree? What are you and your IP team preparing for in the coming years?

Reflecting on 25 years of SEP licensing

The licensing of standards-related essential patents (or SEPs) has been a controversial topic ever since the creation of the 2G mobile telecommunication standards (GSM, CDMA). 25 years on, the debate is still running. In 2001, I wrote my doctoral thesis about the regulation of licensing and the same topics are largely still being discussed today.

Back in 2001, I suggested that the patent owner (or the copyright owner in the case of copyright licensing) should be entitled to define their own licensing terms. Only if their licensing behavior had serious negative implications should the regulators intervene. In other words, the patent owner could operate under what in the corporate world is described as a ‘business judgement rule’. If a party believed that the behavior had negative implications, they could rebut what I called back then the “patent owner’s entitlement” and, if the rebuttal were successful, then regulatory intervention could be appropriate. I suggested that a licensee paying more than they liked was not enough on its own to rebut the initial entitlement, but ‘external effects’ might be needed, such as a negative impact on market development or on supply of commodities.

While the world does not always go your way, the above construction has guided me well in my efforts to understand the regulatory discussion involving SEPs.

I was growing up professionally with the understanding that telecommunication operators did not want to have anything to do with SEP licensing, and therefore asked the mobile phone companies to take care of the necessary patent licenses. Component suppliers to mobile phone companies also wanted to avoid being responsible for SEP licensing, because using the standardized technology was not really their choice to make, as the technology was defined by the standards. There was even an argument that pushing SEP licensing to component suppliers would raise the barrier to entry for the suppliers and could limit the supply.

The industry dynamics resulted in a general agreement around 25 years ago that SEP licensing is a matter for the manufacturer of the complete product (the mobile phone). Component suppliers, telecommunication operators and end-users were all beneficiaries of this outcome.

Such agreements may be changed over time, and new problems may require new regulatory tools. The first 25 years of SEP licensing have shown that both licensees and licensors may behave in an overly aggressive manner. But the system has been able to adjust, and courts have shown the capability of recognizing unwilling licensees and excessive demands by licensors. A licensee being unhappy about the license fee has not been given much credit as a stand-alone argument. But it has also become difficult for patent owners to ask for excessive license fees. The sophistication of stakeholders has increased.

The next 25 years of SEP licensing are likely to reveal new challenges, as the need to share technologies across industries through patent licensing increases in the Internet of Things era, but the familiar ones are not going away. Should SEP licensing be regulated? If so, then when should SEP licensing be regulated? How much room should be given to patent owners to define their own terms? How should earlier industry agreements be applied? In considering these questions, I still find it useful to start from the right of the patent owner to define their own terms, and then to discuss whether there is a justification for regulatory intervention. And with my Marconi hat on, I think it’s also important to consider the benefits of aggregated licensing arrangements, through platforms or pools, as an efficient, market-based approach to SEP licensing, especially where there is cross-industry interaction.

With all that is going on, one thing is certain – I will continue to follow developments with interest!

‘We are the bridge’ – why being neutral works

From a review of press coverage, you could easily believe that patent licensing is all about opposing forces, conflict and litigation. A patent owner sues another company and after a while the parties settle. Sometimes the patent is found invalid or it is ruled the defendant does not infringe it, and if not, courts issue injunctions and award damages.

Military language has often been used when it comes to patent licensing and litigation. The media talks about patent ‘wars’, industries or companies are ‘under attack’. This creates a negative energy and is not helpful. This is not a match between two sporting teams where the only outcome is victory for one team and defeat for the other.

From my previous roles, including as senior vice president of Nokia Technologies, I understand the importance of solving licensing challenges in a fair, and collaborative, way. That’s why I joined the Marconi team two years ago. The common thread that runs through all of our companies is the desire to find better solutions to licensing from a position of independence.

It’s crucial to the IP ecosystem that deals happen quickly and fairly. With over 200 years of patent licensing experience between our key executives, from both sides of the negotiating table, we have the resources, expertise and insights to ensure that we can create fair solutions for all parties.

Our approach to patent licensing has become increasingly successful. For example, one of our companies – Avanci – currently has 39 licensors in its marketplace, all driving Internet of Things innovation.

How do we ensure both sides of the table get the best possible deal? Well, it’s simply based on the notion that the conclusion of a patent license is not much different from any other business transaction. The same rules of human behavior apply. In the center of this are trust and relationships. A successful licensor must have insight and understanding about what drives licensees’ thinking. If a licensor makes the effort to build relationships and have discussions that show this insight and the willingness to take licensees’ viewpoints into account, the process already has a good start.

The insight we have about the needs and wants driving decision makers on both sides of the table enables us to be the solution builders. That starts with understanding the acceptable range of outcomes in any deal, whether that’s from the licensor’s or licensee’s perspective. We are the bridge.

While a patent license is a unique product, the sales arguments are not that different from other commodities. The product needs to be of good quality, the buyer needs to be convinced about the need for the product and the price needs to be right.

Our mission is to provide solutions that work for both sides – and ultimately for the consumers who will benefit from the innovation that results. While for licensors, initiating litigation against an unwilling licensee may still be a necessary step to gain attention and to resolve a deadlock in negations, it is rarely a good first step. This is why successful licensing operations are built on trust and insight – irrespective of whether one is a licensee or a licensor.