Interoperability Standards, Patents and Competition Policy

22 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2014

See all articles by Pierre Larouche

Pierre Larouche

Université de Montréal; Center on Regulation in Europe (CERRE)

Geertrui Van Overwalle

KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP)

Date Written: December 2014


While the traditional literature and the policy statements concerning standardization as such emphasize the benefits of standardization, the intellectual property and competition law literature and policymaking has been more critical of standardization. Intellectual property is relevant, as the technology embedded in a standard is often protected with so-called Standard Essential Patents (SEPs). Similarly, competition law is relevant to the collective behaviour of private firms in creating and operating Standard-Setting Organisations (SSOs), and to their individual behaviour in notifying and licensing their intellectual property. In recent litigation, three issues have risen to the fore, popularized under the labels “patent ambush”, “patent holdup” and “patent thickets”. There is a risk that the discussion of standardization, in academic and policy circles, becomes reduced to these issues. The paper advocates a more holistic approach, and sets out avenues for future research, including an investigation of the consequences of a broader and more nuanced view of the various parameters of standardization, an analysis of the relationship between standards and innovation, and a review of the interplay between the private and public aspects of standardization.

Keywords: Standardization, intellectual property, standard-essential patents, patent holdup, patent ambush, patent thicket

JEL Classification: K11, K21, L15, L17, L41

Suggested Citation

Larouche, Pierre and Van Overwalle, Geertrui, Interoperability Standards, Patents and Competition Policy (December 2014). TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2014-050, Available at SSRN: or

Pierre Larouche (Contact Author)

Université de Montréal ( email )

Montreal, Quebec H3T 1B9

Center on Regulation in Europe (CERRE) ( email )

Rue de l'Industrie 42
Brussels, 1040

Geertrui Van Overwalle

KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP) ( email )

Sint-Michielsstraat 6 box 3443
Leuven, 3000


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics