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Diverse standards system critical for consumer choice :Technology players, policy-makers and experts debate role of standards in boosting innovation and interoperability in ICT


05 May 2009


Innovation & Enterprise

Brussels, 5 May 2009 - Top technology companies, policy-makers and experts gathered today to debate how standards can be used to boost innovation and interoperability in the
ICT sector. The roundtable, hosted by the London Intellectual Property Institute (IPI), took
place as the European Commission finalises its White Paper on ICT standardisation, due to be published in the summer.
Stakeholders stressed that interoperability is critical in the development of new services and markets, but that there is no magic solution for how to bring it about. “Everybody wants interoperability. Regardless of your industry sector, or the hardware and software you
use”, said Allen Dixon, Managing Director of International Intellectual Property & Technology Consulting. “Interoperability is clearly driven by customer demand”, he
added. However, real interoperability requires transparency, collaboration, and a range of
solutions, platforms and tools from across the industry to succeed.
There was also general agreement that standardisation and Intellectual Property (IP)
protection are both important components of a well-balanced innovation policy. IP and standardization serve to reduce transaction costs. This promotes innovation and gives technology users a wider choice of products. “Many people forget – or never knew – that
IP is essential to complex areas of innovation where standards create the platform for
widespread use. In Europe, particularly, we need to reinforce the fundamental importance of IP to all forms of innovation”, commented Ian Harvey, Chairman of the
Intellectual Property Institute.
The openness of standards generated heated discussion – in particular whether standards are more open if they are ‘patent-free’. “There is a widespread myth that without IP you have better and more open inventions. History tells us this is not necessarily true at all. GSM technology – one of the most successful technologies in use today - is
patent based. So is MPEG – the most widely used internet video technology”, argued Allen Dixon. “Both standardization and IP rest on the principle that interests need to be balanced. The discussion should focus less on conflicts and more on how an
appropriate balance can be reached in practice.” Businesses need economic incentives if they are to invest in developing innovative technologies. The key goals of openness – greater efficiency, better collaboration, increased ability to deliver web-based services – cannot be achieved without innovation. Industry experts and standards professionals also agreed that standardisation does not have to be standardised. A diverse and adaptable standards landscape works best to provide a home for the differing stakeholder needs. "New paradigms such as Cloud computing require significant room for innovation. By innovating standards - not standardizing innovation - we retain flexibility to avoid the pitfalls of 'one size fits' all and encourage game-changing innovation", concluded Ajit Jaokar, founder of Futuretext – a company
specialising in emerging web and mobile technologies.
As information technologies become increasingly complex, spanning from large-scale applications to embedded software in electronics, handheld devices, etc, the need for interoperability increases dramatically. “In many cases, open standards are becoming the preferred road forward, being the ultimate enabler for interoperability, but also with due consideration of IPR and the business objectives of innovation", explained Per Andersen, Managing Director, IDC Nordic & Benelux.

This event is part of an ongoing dialogue about the critical issues in ICT standardisation. To
download a podcast from the event and to contribute to the debate, please visit:
To follow us on Twitter, please use #talkstandards
For further information:
Mónica Vicente Cristina
+32 2 289 09 52; +32 472 390 601


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