A new study reviews patent policies for leading standards-setting organizations

A new study, Patent Challenges for Standard-Setting in the Global Economy: Lessons from Information and Communication Technology, examines how 12 leading national and multinational standard-setting organizations (SSOs) address patent disclosures, licensing terms, transfers of patent ownership, and other tensions between patent owners and users that arise in connection with developing technical standards for consumer and other microelectronic products, associated software and components, and communications networks including the Internet.

A summary stated, “Because these organizations have diverse stakeholders and constituents with divergent interests, few articulate clear objectives for their intellectual property rights (IPR) policies or clear criteria for FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing commitments. Moreover, often the policies lack guidance for litigation over the infringement of SEPs (standard essential patents) and changes in SEP ownership.”

William New, writing in Intellectual Property Watch, summarized the report’s call to action. It called on SSOs to develop more explicit policies to avoid “patent holdup” and limit injunctions for infringements of patents with FRAND (RAND in Europe) licensing commitments. The study further recommends government institute measures that will improve patent ownership transparency and reduce international conflicts between and among IP laws.

Organizations studied included: International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), VMEBus International Trade Association (VITA), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), High Definition Multimedia Interface Forum (HDMI), and the Nearfield Communications Forum (NCF).

The report resulted from a Symposium conducted October 3-4 in Washington, DC., chaired by Keith Maskus of the University of Colorado.