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Re: [xml-dev] Standards and Antitrust (was: seduced by markup)

On 16 Nov 2013, at 23:38, Pete Cordell <petexmldev@codalogic.com> wrote:

> My experience of standards processes is not dissimilar to trying to agree things on this mailing list!  The only real difference is that they have to come up with a deliverable.  The "conspiracy" is more that each participant tries to get in their particular wish, and there's a lot of "I'll support your proposal if you support mine."  I'm not even convinced that most standards bodies are populated by the brightest people!  Why would you send your smartest person to help other people!  I'm sure in some cases it's the one you want an excuse to get out the office!  And they are told to get X in the standard and that's what they are appraised by.  Not by preventing some other person's dumb idea.  The result is that there are often too many cooks.  It's surprising anything sensible comes out of these bodies and when it does it's usually as a result of a particularly gifted chair.

The point raised by Steve Newcomb was not about the quality of standards work, it was specifically about the legality.

I think industry standards bodies have a great variety of different governance structures, but in the end they are all voluntary associations of companies or individuals who decide how to organise themselves, and so long as they don't collude to set prices, to control the market, or to exclude competitors, they seem to be within the law.

I don't know anything about the US position, but there are some interesting EU guidelines which suggest that you're OK if you conform to the following principles:

Unrestricted participation: all competitors affected by the standard must be able to participate in the standard-setting
process. Standard-setting organisations need to have objective criteria for selecting technologies to be incorporated into standards.

Transparency: procedures must permit affected parties to inform themselves effectively of upcoming, ongoing and finalised standardisation processes.

Non-binding nature: members of standard-setting organisations should remain free to develop alternative standards or products that do not comply with an agreed standard.

Access to standard: access to standards must be given on FRAND terms. A party wishing to have its IP rights
included in a standard must, prior to its adoption, be required to provide so-called “FRAND
commitments” - irrevocable commitments to license IP rights to third parties on FRAND terms.

There's nothing here about the membership structure, fee structure, or corporate governance of the standards body.

Michael Kay

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