Innovation and Legislation - Standardization in Conflict

Colloquium held December 4-6, 2003 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.

Report by Ken Krechmer, International Center for Standards Research, University of Colorado, Boulder CO, USA

Summary: This colloquium generally supported the commercialization of standardization as evidenced by the growing success of consortia (SDOs successes such as GSM cellular were also in evidence), supported the US laissez faire standardization regime (although international participants were less enthusiastic), identified the increasing tensions between intellectual property rights and communications standards, and highlighted the need for more formal standards education programs.

This colloquium brought together 95 participants from the different disciplines that relate to US standards - the world-wide IT industry, consortia, US and international formal standards development organizations (SDOs), law, academia, major end users and the US Federal government.  Maryfran Johnson, Editor-in-chief, Computerworld provided excellent leadership as the colloquium chair.  The colloquium web site is at . Copies of the presentations are to be added to this site. The two day colloquium , which opened with a keynote by Phillip Bond, Under Secretary for Technology Administration (US Dept. of Commerce), was organized into a series of four sessions of three to four speakers each:

1.     Technical Use of Standardization: Managing Innovation, Creating Technology, Managing Change.
2.     The Role of Government in Standards: Social Legislation, Regulation, and Business User
3.     The Business of Standards: Creation, Destruction, and Preservation of IPR.
4.     Internationalization and Standardization: Creation of National and International Markets

P.Bond indicated the US support for a technology neutral approach to standardization and regulation and a minimum of governmental intervention in standardization. He noted, however, federal activity in the following areas:

Session 1. Rob Gingell, Chief Engineer, Sun Fellow & Vice President, Sun Microsystems presented a view of the standardization process as the relationship between technology and products with a chaotic region where technology is applied to the become products.  The chaotic region is the focus of this conference.  Ken Krechmer noted that the chaotic region can be further broken down into anticipatory, participatory and responsive standardization as it relates to the introduction of products.  Don Purcell, Catholic University noted the results of a survey of US Universities found only three US Universities have courses on standards (Catholic University, University of Maryland and University of Colorado).  Also in this session Tony Scott of General Motors gave an overview of the world-wide operations of GM as they relate standards.  IT costs at GM have declined from $4 billion in 1996 to $3 billion in 2003 and the increasing use of standards has been a factor in this cost decline.

Session 2. Toru Yamauchi (Director Industrial Standards Research Office, Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) explained the Japanese concerns regarding intellectual property rights (IPR) costs indicating that the current reasonable and non-discriminatory policy of SDOs does not go far enough.  Dale Hatfield (ex- FCC, now University of Colorado-Boulder) noted his concerns that system architecture impacts the openness of the system and in public networks may need to be reviewed even prior to standardization.  Gail Levine of the Federal Trade Commission discussed the October 2003 FTC report “To Promote Innovation” and other FTC actions. This new FTC report recommends a number of changes to reduce IPR problems. FTC reports are available at .  Andrew Updegrove (Lucash, Gesmer & Updegrove) noted that there may be a delay in adjudication of the Rambus case. Andy maintains a web site on consortia related issues at . Carl Cargill (Sun Microsystems and the instigator of this colloquium ) noted his concerns over the Eolas patent on web browsing (5,838,906) and Gail indicated that this patent was being reviewed by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Session 3. Ray Alderman (VITA) provided the unbridled capitalist view, noting that his consortia does not tolerate IPR on its work and will sue if necessary to prevent IPR issues from reducing the market success of their specifications.  Deepak Kamlani, Global Inventures, explained that his company manages 12 different IT related consortia which he describes as the monitization of standardization. But overall he thought that the European model of support for standardization represented a better approach than the US laissez faire approach.  Carl Cargill spoke on his concerns that the old standardization regimes were not prepared to address today’s problems and suggested that a more innovative approach to standardization is required.

Session 4.  Mike Smith of ISO and Jack Sheldon of IEC provided the SDO view of standardization. Unfortunately the ITU was not represented at this colloquium.  In response to a question on the continuing value of JTC1, Jack indicated that this was being looked at but no major changes are foreseen.  Karl-Heinz Rosenbrock of ETSI provided the success story of GSM explaining that ETSI addressed the IPR issues and has promoted GSM world-wide.  Robert Noth of John Deere provided the view of an international standards user and participant view noting the need his company has for flexible standards that allow changes as their markets demand.

At the closing Ken noted that consortia offer three desired functions: a place to negotiate intellectual property rights,  one stop world-wide standardization and the promotion of new standards.  SDOs need to address these requirements to remain competitive players in communications standards development.

This colloquium was sponsored by Sun Microsystems and JEDEC as well as Georgetown University, AOL, Global Inventures, Oracle, Samsung and the Consumer Electronics Association. The first colloquium in this series was held in Boston about a year ago and future colloquium are planned.  A book of papers on standards and standardization, The Standards Edge: Dynamic Tension™ , is also in production and will be distributed in January, 2004.  Contact Sherrie Bolin ( if interested.

Copyright Ken Krechmer 2003.  Permission to further distribute or excerpt this report is granted so long as the original authorship is acknowledged.

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