Glossary of competition terms

This Glossary is based on definitions from DG COMP’s Glossary of terms used in EU competition policy (© European Union, 2002) and the OECD’s Glossary of industrial organisation economics and competition law (© OECD, 1993). Each term is enriched with references of national case laws from the e-Competitions Bulletin and Concurrences Review.

Standard-essential patent

Standards frequently make reference to technologies that are protected by patents. A patent that protects technology essential to a standard is called a standard-essential patent. It is impossible to manufacture standard-compliant products such as smartphones or tablets without using technologies covered by one or more SEPs. SEPs are different from patents that are not essential to a standard (non-SEPs), such as design patents, for example, which protect the design features of an invention. This is because, generally, companies can invent alternative solutions that do not infringe a non-SEP (whereas they cannot design around a SEP). For example the "slide to unlock" technology is covered by a non-SEP. Most smartphone manufacturers were able to develop different technologies for unlocking a smartphone screen which do not infringe the "slide to unlock" patent. This would not have been possible in the case of a SEP.

© European Commission

Glossary