FRAND in India: The Delhi High Court’s Emerging Jurisprudence on Royalties for Standard-Essential Patents
Indian jurisprudence on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) licensing practices for standard-essential patents (SEPs) is at a relatively nascent stage. Unlike U.S. and EU courts, which have dealt with cases concerning calculating a FRAND royalty for a considerable time, Indian courts and the Indian antitrust authority—the Competition Commission of India (CCI)—have only just begun to decide such cases. In its initial orders in the first two antitrust complaints concerning SEPs, the CCI seemed to favor using the smallest salable patent-practicing component (SSPPC) as the royalty base to determine a FRAND royalty. However, in the short time since the CCI’s orders, the Delhi High Court has rendered contrary decisions in two SEP infringement suits. The Delhi High Court’s decisions use the value of the downstream product as a royalty base and rely on comparable licenses to determine a FRAND royalty. The Delhi High Court’s decisions are not only consistent with sound economic principles, but also indicate that the court is responding to the judicial and industry trends in the rest of the world. Because the CCI is still investigating the antitrust complaints with respect to the same SEPs, the CCI could benefit from considering the legal and economic arguments in the Delhi High Court’s decisions. It would be counterproductive for the emerging FRAND jurisprudence in India if the judiciary and the competition authority take opposing views toward the rights of SEP holders and SEP implementers.