The Relationship Between Open Source Software and Standard Setting

Abstract

Standards and open source development are both processes widely adopted in the ICT industry to develop innovative technologies and drive their adoption in the market. Innovators and policy makers assume that a closer collaboration between standards and open source software development would be mutually beneficial. The interaction between the two is however not yet fully understood, especially with regard to how the intellectual property regimes applied by these organisations influence their ability and motivation to cooperate. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the interaction between standard development organisations (SDOs) and open source software (OSS) communities. The analysis is based on 20 case studies, a survey of stakeholders involved in SDOs and OSS communities, an expert workshop, and a comprehensive review of the literature. In the analysis, we differentiate according to the governance of SDOs and OSS communities, but also considering the involved stakeholders and subject matter. We discuss the preconditions, forms and impacts of collaboration, before we eventually focus on the complementarity of the different Intellectual Property Right (IPR) regimes. Finally, we derive policy recommendations addressing SDOs, OSS communities and policy makers.

Type
Publication
Publications Office of the European Union

This publication is a Science for Policy report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service. It aims to provide evidence-based scientific support to the European policymaking process. The scientific output expressed does not imply a policy position of the European Commission. Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is responsible for the use that might be made of this publication.

The report has been developed in the framework of the 2017 Communication of the European Commission ‘Setting out the EU approach to Standard Essential Patents’ (COM(2017) 712 final). In this Communication there is a direct commitment that ‘The Commission will work with stakeholders, open source communities and SDOs for successful interaction between open source and standardisation, by means of studies and analyses’. Standards and open source development are both processes widely adopted in the ICT industry to develop innovative technologies and drive their adoption in the market. Innovators and policy makers assume that a closer collaboration between standards and open source software development would be mutually beneficial. The interaction between the two is however not yet fully understood, especially with regard to how the intellectual property regimes applied by these organisations influence their ability and motivation to cooperate. This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the interaction between standard development organisations (SDOs) and open source software (OSS) communities. The analysis is based on 20 case studies, a survey of stakeholders involved in SDOs and OSS communities, an expert workshop, and a comprehensive review of the literature.