Are standards becoming a new trade barrier? That is the question raised by China and other “developing” countries, according to a recent story on Intellectual Property Watch: China Leads Developing Country Push For Balance In IP And Standards:
A key focus is on the treatment of standards for technology and the related intellectual property rights. Xiaozhun Yi, vice-minister of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said at a conference last week that standards and IP rights are critical for economies such as China’s that are basing their development on science and technology. But, he said, an “inappropriate convergence” between standards and IP rights has “caused problems.”
“Delayed or inadequate IPR [intellectual property rights] disclosure, stringent IPR licensing conditions and expensive licensing fees run counter to fair competition, hinder the promotion and application of new technologies, obstruct the normal operation of international trade and impede the harmonious development of global economy and society,” Xiaozhun said at an April 17-18 conference cosponsored by the commerce ministry and other Chinese agencies, as well as Sun Microsystems. “Developing countries are the worst hit by such problems which effectively hinders their greater participation in economic globalization.”
Chinese officials such as Xiaozhun say international standards bodies, which are typically based in western developed countries, have begun to recognise the imbalance in their policies that insufficiently reflect the interests of developing countries. “Standards bodies are mainly controlled by developed countries,” he said. As a result, new standards putting developing countries in an “underprivileged position” have “become new obstacles to international trade.”
A number of recent patent cases in the US have also highlighted the problem of determining what is IPR and what should be a standard (for example the MP3 case and the VoIP case.)
Here is another example of where we need to get it right. Or, as the above story implies, others may impose a solution on us.