When an industry standard is established for some technology, as for example smartphones rely on several industry standards, those patents that are deemed “essential” for the standard become subject to different rules. The company that owns an essential patent may be required to license it on a fair and reasonable basis to all comers.
Your company benefits from being crucial to an industry standard, but your patent lawyers may face increased work to meet the demands of licensees. With so-called non-essential patents, by contrast, you can decide whether you want to license them and to whom and on what terms (See my post of April 29, 2011: licensing patents with 9 references.).