Do we love industrial standards, which enable entire industries to come together and set the technical specifications that all must adopt -- and pay for -- if they want to compete, or do we hate them for their ability to manipulate the market and stifle non-standard innovation? We might get some answers to the lovability of standards when the results of the "Study on the Interplay between Standards and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)" are known. This study, commissioned last December by the European Commission's Enterprise and Industry Directorate General, is in the hands of a consortium coordinated by Fraunhofer (Germany). According to the project's website,
"The aim of this fact-finding study is to provide a sound factual basis on the above interplay for possible policy development in the area of European standardisation and innovation. In the context of the study, we conduct a survey among enterprises owning IPRs (intellectual property rights) as well as enterprises implementing standards. The copyright on the standardization documents as such is not considered.
In the survey, we focus on essential IPRs, in general patents, which disclose and claim inventions that are required to implement a given standard. It can be either used according to Fair Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing conditions or Royalty Free (RF; understood as royalty free licensing that may be subject to other FRAND conditions). We cover standards, which are released either by formal standardisation bodies, like ISO, CEN-CENELEC, ETSI and the various national standardisation bodies, or by standardisation consortia, like IEEE, IETF, OASIS, OMA or W3C. In general, we cover all such organisations under the term standards setting organisations (SSOs).
We have identified your enterprise [naturally, the IPKat weblog] based on public available information as either owning essential IPRs or having implemented especially standards containing IPRs. Your participation will take about 20 minutes and will help to produce an objective and representative picture of the issue and also a benchmarking of your company's behaviour in relation to the other companies active in the market.Disappointingly, all answers are treated in confidence. Still, if you want to participate in the survey, you can check out the questions here.
We ask you to answer the questionnaire by September 17th, 2010".