Governance of Standard Development Organisations (sdos) and Intellectual Property (ipr) Policies

Pierre Larouche (Université de Montréal)
Justus Baron (Northwestern University)
Jorge Contreras (Utah University)
Martin Husovec (Tilburg University)

Abstract: This paper is based on a research project carried out for the European Commission. That project had an empirical component, involving interviews of SDO leaders and a survey of SDO stakeholders. The SDOs in our sample are based in Europe, the United States and elsewhere, and the set of stakeholders is global. Some SDOs follow a more traditional model (broad-based, long established), others are narrower and driven by specific needs. This paper takes as a backdrop the debates surrounding IPR policies which have affected a number of SDOs in recent years. IPR policies govern the use of intellectual property (essentially patents) in standards development; they typically include requirements as to disclosure and licensing. Existing literature on SDOs is mostly concerned with standardization activities and the substantive rules concerning standardization. More recently, the applications of IPR policies has drawn much academic and practical attention, in the context of disputes surrounding FRAND commitments. Few articles and papers have ventured into the governance of SDOs as such. In this paper, we make a comparative investigation of SDO governance, and we attempt to link features of SDO governance with the outcomes observed as regards the IPR policies of the SDOs under study. We summarize the legal and other external constraints on governance. We describe and analyse the various options chosen by SDOs and observed in our sample for key elements of governance, such as membership, management, decision-making processes and dispute resolution. We also examine how SDOs implement basic governance principles such as transparency, openness and representativeness. We put forward a set of empirically and theoretically grounded explanations for why IPR policy evolves in a given direction at a given SDO.