Standards and Intellectual Property

BSI commissioned an independent study of standards and intellectual property (IP) which brought together existing evidence with new data and analysis. When seen in the context of a science, technology, innovation and growth system, these sources deepen understanding of how standards are a catalyst for many aspects of the system. In particular, standards development and use interact effectively with the IP framework to promote economic performance for firms and the economy as a whole.

The report of the study confirmed that intellectual property rights (IPR)  help to stimulate the generation of new knowledge, and standards act to disseminate it. Standards and IPR are components of a knowledge infrastructure that reduces uncertainty and encourages the commitment of resources to forms of innovation-related investment, as well as to creativity and human capital development. In-house R&D, product innovation and associated training, investment in advanced assets including computer hardware and software, are also promoted by standards.

Participation in standards development is seen as beneficial, largely through the knowledge networks created and in the ability to influence future standards and their role in the orderly development of markets and technologies. Small enterprises are also relatively more likely to perceive the advantages of the PAS (Publicly Available Specification) option which enables the testing of an idea as the basis for a possible future standard. This further suggests that novel approaches to standards development can widen the attractions of participation. This may also extend to inclusion of IP in standards as an option for smaller enterprises who are deterred by costs from gaining formal IPR.

The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which funded this study, has convened the Innovation Infrastructure Partners  to promote the configuration of innovation policy to build on the established strengths and connectivity of the knowledge infrastructure. Initiatives could, for example, include bilateral collaboration between BSI and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to consider approaches to better meet the needs of those businesses and other economic agents, who are currently neutral with respect to the strategic use of standards, their development and the link with IP.

The study includes a number of case studies, based on interviews with standards and IP experts and information provided by 395 survey respondents primarily from Standards Development Organisation technical committees.