The Rise and Limits of Self-Regulation
- New Horizons in Competition Law and Economics series
Chapter 1: R & D collaborations, technology standardization agreements and patent pools: antitrust problems or efficient solutions to antitrust problems?
When interviewed, a representative for the world's leading equipment supplier and network service operator of mobile and fixed phone and telecommunications stated that the two most important outputs of research are patents and technology standards. The representative for the telecommunications firm went on to say that technology standardization is never an end in itself because consumers' requirements and competitors' positions need to be taken into consideration and balanced against each other. The firms that combine forces in the standardization committees change over time but collaboration remains essential since the processes in the technical committees are usually consensual. In fact, the negotiation of compromises in the technical committees of standard-setting organizations permits a feedback loop into research activities. Technical committees create platforms where competitors can communicate, negotiate and collaborate about the development and the standardization of the technology. In relation to intellectual property rights, the members of these technical committees are these days conscious of the patent or IP 'ecosystem' that is linked to suggested standards. They often file patent applications before the initial meeting when discussing which technologies to standardize. The intellectual property rights that are the result of this process are placed in technology poolsor utilized as bargaining chips when negotiating cross-licence or licence agreements, or used as the basis for court cases in the furious patent and standards wars taking place at the moment.
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