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David Meyer, May 12, 2008
Collaboratively set standards are an important part of the global economy. As the U.S. Department of Justice (the “Department”) explained in last year’s “IP2 Report,” issued jointly with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, collaboratively set standards are generally pro-competitive, and increasing the efficiency of standard-setting efforts is important for business and consumers alike. The Department has recently made a number of detailed statements on this subject, including in speeches and in business review letters to VITA and IEEE. The Department’s goal in such efforts has been to articulate what we believe to be the appropriate antitrust analysis of collaborative standard setting, while reducing unwarranted “antitrust fear,” encouraging experimentation by standards development organizations (“SDOs”), and respecting the tradeoffs inherent in business decisions by standards participants. The Department believes this approach not only will provide the freedom for SDOs to work things out in the manner best suited to their standards development objectives, but also will create the incentives to do so or perhaps more accurately, will permit ordinary incentives to operate, once SDO participants are convinced that antitrust will function neither as an unreasonable barrier to innovation in standards development nor as a cure-all against exploitation of intellectual property (IP) value in the standards arena. Subscribers can download the entire article available in the column on the left.