Washington Law Review


No Forum to Rule Them All: Comity and Conflict in Transnational FRAND Disputes

October 31, 2019 | 94 Wash. L. Rev. 1085

Abstract:  Recent years have seen an explosion in FRAND litigation, in which parties commit to license intellectual property under “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) terms, but they cannot agree on the meaning of that commitment. Much of this litigation is multinational and involves coordinating patent, antitrust, and contract claims across several jurisdictions. A number of courts and commentators have aimed to centralize and thereby streamline these disputes, whether by consolidating all litigation in one judicial forum or through the creation of a comprehensive arbitral process. This Article argues that such efforts are misguided—FRAND disputes are particularly unamenable to centralization, and the costs of centralizing FRAND disputes are high. Rather, absent other agreement between the parties, FRAND disputes should be resolved through the ordinary territorial structures of patent law, and attempts to simplify these disputes should focus on procedural and substantive coordination across jurisdictions.

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