Monday, February 23, 2015

Interoperability Standards, Patents and Competition Policy

Pierre Larouche, Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC); College of Europe - Bruges; Tilburg University - Tilburg Law School; Center on Regulation in Europe (CERRE), and Geertrui Van Overwalle, Leuven University have a new thought paper on Interoperability Standards, Patents and Competition Policy.

ABSTRACT: While the traditional literature and the policy statements concerning standardization as such emphasize the benefits of standardization, the intellectual property and competition law literature and policymaking has been more critical of standardization. Intellectual property is relevant, as the technology embedded in a standard is often protected with so-called Standard Essential Patents (SEPs). Similarly, competition law is relevant to the collective behaviour of private firms in creating and operating Standard-Setting Organisations (SSOs), and to their individual behaviour in notifying and licensing their intellectual property. In recent litigation, three issues have risen to the fore, popularized under the labels “patent ambush”, “patent holdup” and “patent thickets”. There is a risk that the discussion of standardization, in academic and policy circles, becomes reduced to these issues. The paper advocates a more holistic approach, and sets out avenues for future research, including an investigation of the consequences of a broader and more nuanced view of the various parameters of standardization, an analysis of the relationship between standards and innovation, and a review of the interplay between the private and public aspects of standardization.

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