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At Legal Issues Forum, Experts Examine Spectrum of Legal Landscape for Standards

New York, Oct 16, 2006

As part of the World Standards Week 2006 series of events, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) presented the Legal Issues Forum, October 12 in Washington, DC, to examine the spectrum of legal issues that can arise throughout the voluntary standards development process. Moderated by Patricia Griffin, ANSI vice president and general counsel, the forum brought together a distinguished group of legal experts to discuss important legal developments vis-à-vis the standards and conformity assessment community.

The first panel offered an interactive discussion of recent antitrust and patent cases. Panelists Richard Taffet, partner, Bingham McCutchen, LLP, and Gil Ohana, director of antitrust and competition at Cisco Systems, led attendees through a dissection of several recent cases relating to standards development in various technology markets. Examining the key issues that shaped the court rulings, Ohana and Taffet debated how standards developing organizations (SDOs) determine the essentiality of a patent and the importance of an SDO’s role in enforcing patent policy.

The second panel took a look at the range of copyright issues that can impact standards-setting. Dan Bart, senior vice president of standards and special projects at the Telecommunications Industry Association, explored issues of multiple authorship, the implications of instances where standards are incorporated into law, and steps that SDOs can take to earn copyright permissions or protect their copyrights. Maureen Brodoff, general counsel for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), offered a lesson in applied copyright law with a profile of a case involving the International Code Council and the NFPA. Brodoff encouraged SDOs to negotiate fair and reasonable licenses, allow the liberal use of a standard in the public interest, and to work cooperatively with other SDOs.

Rounding out the forum’s panels, Clark Silcox, general counsel for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) discussed how legal theories have been evolving with respect to SDOs. In particular, he examined such questions as whether omission in a standard can make the world less safe and whether a standards-setting body can be held responsible for the safety of a product it did not make.

Click here to view the program and some of the presentations from the Legal Issues Forum.

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