LES Standards Initiative Update
Friday, March 16, 2018
By Bob Held, Held Intellectual Property, LLC & President-Elect LES (U.S.A. and Canada)
In July of 2014 approximately 50 representatives from all walks of the IP industry gathered in a cold hotel conference room in Chicago for a day to drink coffee and hear about the proposed new LES Standards program. The idea of creating voluntary consensus standards for prudent, practical, and ethical behavioral practices in the field of intellectual property had "peaked" their interest. You could say that the feelings in the group were mixed as they ranged from "Great Idea," to "I am only here to make sure that you guys don't do anything that screws-up my IP business."
Since then the LES Standards program has grown into an open, inclusive, transparent process for the development of voluntary consensus standards and as a result has achieved a significant milestone in that it became an accredited standards developer (ASD) by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in January of 2017. We currently have five active committees made up of 76 representatives from operating companies, government, universities, law firms, and consultants from around the world that have been engaged in drafting standards in the following disciplines: IP Licensing, IP Protection in the Supply Chain, IP Brokerage, IP Valuation, and Intellectual Assets in the Boardroom. (/?lesstandards). In addition—there are two more committees being established entitled FRAND Licensing and IP Hygiene for Start-ups. LES is also looking at taking on the complementary role of the U.S. TAG administrator for ISO/TC 279—Innovation Management.
So you may ask why standards in the IP industry are needed? Because full-consensus voluntary standards are an effective and proven means to self-regulate behavior through the input garnered from all interested parties participating in the process. The key term being "participate"—if you chose not to participate then your voice won't be heard.
The other reason is that Washington is ill-equipped to regulate IP matters as was demonstrated in the passing of the America Invents Act in 2011 and the subsequent diminishment of patent rights in the U.S.
As a result of the AIA and judicial decisions, the U.S. is in a period of weakened patent enforcement, reduced patent values, and our innovation engine is running on six of its eight cylinders. Historically, the U.S. patent system was the gold standard of patent systems globally. In 2017 we fell to 10th place—tied with Hungary. The LES Standards program will identify prudent, pragmatic practices and provide meaningful guidance to policymakers, legislators, judges, and practitioners.
Again—the key term is "participate"—if you chose not to participate then your voice and the voice of your company won't be heard. We want to hear the voices and opinions of all interested parties so that the resultant standard is strong and represents the interests of a broad spectrum of constituencies.
Now, this may run afoul of what your mother used to teach you when she preached "If you don't have anything good to say then don't say anything at all." At LES we want to hear all of your opinions so that the end result is an industry created and sanctioned position.