Neelie Kroes Gets IT.

Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Competition Policy gave a speech:
Being open about standards
OpenForum Europe – Breakfast seminar
Brussels, 10th June 2008

  • First, we should only standardise when there are demonstrable benefits, and we should not rush to standardise on a particular technology too early.
  • Second, I fail to see the interest of customers in including proprietary technology in standards when there are no clear and demonstrable benefits over non-proprietary alternatives.
  • Third, standardisation agreements should be based on the merits of the technologies involved.

Allowing companies to sit around a table and agree technical developments for their industry is not something that the competition rules would usually allow. So when it is allowed we have to look carefully at how it is done. If voting in the standard-setting context is influenced less by the technical merits of the technology but rather by side agreements, inducements, package deals, reciprocal agreements, or commercial pressure … then these risk falling foul of the competition rules.

In addition, if we are to include proprietary technology in a standard, then ex ante disclosure may help those involved make a properly informed decision. Competition law should not stand in the way.

What a breath of fresh air compared to what was done during the fast-tracking of OOXML.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.

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