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The Standards Game

OpenStand Principle 1: Cooperation

Posted by Karen B on October 18th, 2012

The first principle of the OpenStand modern paradigm for global standardization is “Cooperation”. It is elaborated with “Respectful cooperation between standards organizations, whereby each respects the autonomy, integrity, processes, and intellectual property rules of the others.”

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations in the world that create standards to benefit society in countless ways. Each organization has its own processes for developing standards, maintaining them, and addressing intellectual property rights.

An organization may adopt the processes of another organization in their entirety. It might base its processes on existing ones but with modifications to suit their constituency. Or the organization could develop its own processes from scratch. (Personally, I don’t recommend starting from scratch. It takes a long time and it’s better to build on the vast experience of others.) Expecting an existing, effective standards organization to change its processes to match another one is simply not realistic. OpenStand recognizes that there is more than one way to produce a high quality, well-adopted standard. This is notably true when the market-driven standards paradigm is contrasted with the national body standardization model. Both have served and will continue to serve humanity well.

Cooperation among standards organizations – and let me emphasize respectful – means that one organization doesn’t intrude into another’s back yard and take its standards to be its own without permission. It also provides opportunities for efficiency when organizations don’t consciously duplicate the work of others. Additional efficiencies are realized when a standards organization respects an originating organization and doesn’t insist on rerunning a standard through its own processes in order to recognize the standard’s validity.

Intellectual property issues remain one of the biggest challenges the standards community faces. Established and effective standards organizations have developed intellectual property rules that have been proven to work for them. They take into account local laws and global policies. A standards organization may choose to review the rules of another and modify its own rules or leave its rules as-is. As with standardization processes, there is more than one way to effectively address intellectual property rights in the framework of standards.

Because there will always be numerous standards organizations serving the needs of their local and global economies and citizens, the best way forward is for them to respect each other and cooperate.

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