The Federal Trade Commission is engaged in a policy project to examine the legal and policy issues surrounding the problem of potential patent “hold-up” when patented technologies are included in collaborative standards. As part of the project, the Commission will conduct a workshop and seeks views of consumers and the legal, academic, and business communities on the issues to be explored in this project.
Background of the Project
Collaborative standard setting plays an important role in the modern economy. In areas such as information and communications technology, for example, the usefulness of complex products and services often depends on the interoperability of components and products of different firms. To enhance the value of these complex products, private firms – including competing manufacturers, their customers and suppliers – frequently participate in standard-setting organizations to set technological standards for use in designing products or services.
When standards incorporate technologies that are protected by patent rights, there is a possibility for “hold-up” by a patent owner – a demand for higher royalties or other more costly or burdensome licensing terms after the standard is implemented than could have been obtained before the standard was chosen. Hold-up can subvert the competitive process of choosing among technologies and undermine the integrity of standard-setting activities. Consumers can be harmed if manufacturers are able to pass on higher costs resulting from hold-up.
The project will examine three ways to try to prevent hold-up: (1) patent disclosure rules of standard setting organizations; (2) commitments given by patent holders that they will license users of the standard on reasonable and non-discriminatory (“RAND”) terms; and (3) ex ante licensing negotiations by patent holders, before the standard is adopted. The Commission intends to examine these issues from practical, economic and legal perspectives, and under antitrust, contract, patent and consumer protection law .
The event is free and open to the public. All attendees will be required to display a current driver's license or other valid form of photo identification. The Conference Center is accessible to people with disabilities. If you need an accommodation related to a disability, please call Carrie McGlothin at 202-326-3388. Such requests should include a detailed description of the accommodations needed and a way to contact you if we need more information.
Pre-registration for this workshop is not necessary, but is encouraged, so that we may better plan for the event.
To pre-register, email your name and affiliation to email@example.com.
NOTE: When you pre-register, we will collect your name, affiliation, and your email address. This information will be used to estimate how many people will attend. We may use your email address to contact you with information about the workshop.
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Request for Comments
The Commission invites interested persons to submit written comments on issues related to this workshop. Comments to inform discussion at the workshop must be received by June 14, 2011. All comments in response to the Federal Register Notice are due by August 5, 2011. Comments should be captioned “Patent Standards Workshop, Project No. P11-1204” and submitted according to the instructions below.
To File Electronically:
Comments filed in electronic form should be submitted by using the following weblink: https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/standardsproject and following the instructions on the web-based form.
To File in Paper Form:
A comment filed in paper form should include “Patent Standards Workshop, Project No. P11-1204” both in the text and on the envelope, and mail or deliver two copies to the following address:
Federal Trade Commission/Office of the Secretary
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Room H-135 (Annex X)
Washington, DC 20580
Because postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay, please consider submitting your comments in electronic form, as described above. The FTC requests that you send any comment by courier or overnight service, if possible.
To Request Confidential Treatment:
Comments containing material for which confidential treatment is requested must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled “Confidential,” and must comply with Commission Rule 4.9(c). Comments should not include any sensitive personal information, such as an individual’s Social Security Number; date of birth; driver’s license number or other state identification number or foreign country equivalent; passport number; financial account number; or credit or debit card number. Comments also should not include any sensitive health information, such as medical records and other individually identifiable health information.