ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Standards Development Organization Advancement Act of 2003 Introduced in House

New York, Mar 14, 2003

In an effort to support the development and use of voluntary consensus standards, H.R. 1086 - Standards Development Organization Advancement Act of 2003 was introduced into Congress on March 5, 2003. The bill is sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and is co-sponsored by the ranking Democratic member of the Committee, John Conyers (D-MI), as well as the leadership of the House Science Committee and a bipartisan group of fourteen other Members of Congress. The broad bi-partisan sponsorship of the bill indicates that wide support for standards development activities that exists in the Congress. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

H.R. 1086 aims “To encourage the development and promulgation of voluntary consensus standards by providing relief under the antitrust laws to standards development organizations with respect to conduct engaged in for the purpose of developing voluntary consensus standards, and for other purposes.” The text of the bill notes that technical standards developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies have replaced thousands of unique federal standards and specifications. Standards developed by government entities generally are not subject to challenge under certain antitrust laws, yet private developers of technical standards are often not similarly protected, and are vulnerable to legal prosecution. In most cases, the likelihood of their being held liable is remote, and these private entities often have limited resources to defend themselves in such lawsuits.

H.R. 1086 would create an explicit filing opportunity for SDOs that mirrors the requirements and restrictions currently placed on organizations and companies filing under the existing law, and recognizes the assistance they provide to government agencies in developing standards for regulatory and procurement functions.

A number of ANSI-accredited standards developers are leading the effort to pass the legislation, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), ASTM International, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Many standards developed by ANSI-accredited developers are used by federal agencies for procurement and regulatory purposes, and according to David Karmol, ANSI vice president public policy and government affairs, “it is certainly consistent with Congressional support for the standards community to give all developers the same opportunity to receive protection from antitrust liability.”

A hearing in a special Judiciary Committee Antitrust task force is expected within the next month, with passage by the full House expected soon after.

1 The National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993 [NCRPA]

H.R. 1086 - Standards Development Organization Advancement Act of 2003

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