Anne Layne-Farrar, Gerard Llobet, and Jorge Padilla
Formal, cooperative standard setting continues to grow in importance for the global economy. And as standards become more pervasive, the stakes rise for all participants. It is not surprising then that many standards are covered by intellectual property rights, that battles over the licensing of those rights have reached a fevered pitch in several industries, and that competition agencies around the globe are seriously weighing whether and how to intervene in the standard setting process. One suggestion for such an intervention is the imposition of a licensing cap, referred to as the incremental value rule. We evaluate this proposal and find that even in contexts where this rule is efficient from an ex-post point of view, it induces important distortions in the decisions of firms to innovate and participate in standard setting organizations (SSO). Such a rule reduces the R&D investment that a firm makes in relevant technologies and lowers the probability that it will join the SSO. We characterize a variation of the incremental value rule for defining fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory that accounts for both investment and participation incentives.