Patents and the Performance of Voluntary Standard Setting Organizations

Interoperability, Competition Policy and Antitrust and Standards

Article Snapshot


Marc Rysman and Tim S. Simcoe


NET Institute Working Paper No. 05-22s


This paper looks the effect of making a firm’s technology part of a standard.

Policy Relevance

Some wonder why technology owned by one firm would be shared with other firms. This paper helps explain why the owners would agree to share their technology by making it part of a technical standard. It also helps show that standard-setting organizations tend to choose key innovations for standards.

Main Points

  • Technology standards tell producers how to design products that work together.


  • Sometimes, one or more firms hold patents on the technologies used in a standard, and others must get a license to build the technology.


  • Patents incorporated in standards become more important. Other patents refer to them, or “cite” them over a longer period of time.
    • Mostly, this happens because standard-setting organizations choose the most important technology to put in the standard.
    • Partly, just being included in a standard makes the patent more important.

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