The European Commission is organizing next week in Brussels a conference on "European ICT standardisation policy at a crossroads: A new direction for global success". Among the papers in discussion for this conference, one paper suggests to allow RAND standards as general policy. The European Commission seems to listen to the big industry who contributed to the discussion paper. RAND standards (such as h264 or MPEG2) are a way to exclude FLOSS developers, because they require royalty payments that developers cannot afford.
There is an urgent need to reverse the vapor:
"IPR issues: The Commission departments favour the (F)RAND approach to dealing with IPR rights. During the consultation process the (F)RAND approach as such has not been called into question however some comments highlighted the difficulties in providing a clear interpretation of the concepts of "non-discriminatory" and "reasonable". Other comments noted the complexity and the high costs involved in monitoring patent search and patent data bases. Some organisations, such as ETSI already initiated major IPR related activities. Others noted the importance and benefits of intellectual property as an incentive for IPR holders to voluntarily contribute to standardisation; There is a need to further analyse and clarify the situation before initiating any specific actions. The Commission therefore proposes organising a dedicated open consultation workshop in 2008. All stakeholders, and in particular standards developing organisations and public authorities will be invited to present their expectations and share their experiences. Following the workshop it should become clearer whether and what further actions are required."
"Furthermore, the Commission services believe that where standards are used in a public policy context; they should be issued by organisations that accede to the “FRAND” principles (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) in their IPR policy. Royalty-free handling of IPR is part of FRAND but should not be made mandatory by the legislator or public procurement authority. The Commission is fully aware of the intense debate currently being conducted on IPR issues in ICT standards and on FRAND or royalty-free IPR handling. Since it is clearly very difficult to define objective criteria to determine whether an organisation may be considered to be applying FRAND principles, the Commission will continue to work on this issue."
"7. Intellectual Property Rights: IPRs essential to the implementation of standards will be licensed to applicants on a (fair) reasonable and non-discriminatory basis (F)RAND, which may permit, at the discretion of the IPR holder, licensing essential IPR without compensation. However, Royalty free (RF) IPR cannot be imposed by the Commission or a public procurement authority;"
"9. Neutrality and stability: Standards should whenever possible, be performance-oriented rather than based on design or descriptive characteristics. They should not distort the (global) market, and should maintain the capacity for implementers to develop competition and innovation based upon them. Additionally and in order to enhance their stability, standards should be based on advanced scientific and technological developments."
Please, policy and standard makers, kindly do standards and laws which don't disturb the business of monopolies…
And please exclude those FLOSS pirates, they can't use our algorithms for free.
It might be a good idea to contribute to the discussion by submitting your views.