President Signs Legislation Protecting Standards Development

President George Bush signed the "Standards Development Organization (SDO) Advancement Act of 2003" (H.R. 1086), which was passed by Congress last month.

The bill, sponsored by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), was introduced in 2003 and signed into law by Bush on June 22. H.R. 1086/S. 1799 encourages the development and promulgation of voluntary consensus standards by providing relief under the antitrust laws to SDOs with respect to conduct engaged in for the purpose of developing voluntary consensus standards, and for other purposes. Sponsored by Rep. James F. Sensenbrenner Jr. (R, Wisc.), the House suspended the rules and agreed to a Senate (conference committee) amendment by voice vote.

The "Standards Development Organization Advancement Act of 2003" amends the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993 to provide that the conduct of an SDO while engaged in a standards development activity shall be subject to a rule of reason standard in any action under the antitrust laws. Under the bill, "standards development activity" is defined as an action for the purpose of developing, promulgating, revising, interpreting or maintaining a voluntary consensus standard, or using such a standard in conformity assessment activities, including actions related to the intellectual property policies of the SDO.

The bill excludes as such an activity:

  • Exchanging information among competitors relating to cost, sales, profitability, prices, marketing or distribution of any product, process, or service that is not reasonably required for the purpose of developing or promulgating a voluntary consensus standard;
  • Entering into any agreement or engaging in any other conduct that would allocate a market with a competitor;
  • Entering into any agreement or conspiracy that would set or restrain prices of any good or service.

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has come out in support of the legislation. ASSE is the secretariat for a number of ANSI committees and projects, including the A10 Safety Requirements for Construction and Demolition Operations group of standards, the A1264 Protection of Floor and Wall Openings standard, the Z15 Motor Vehicle Fleet Safety standard, the Z117 Confined Spaces standard, the Z244 Lockout/Tagout standard, the Z359 Fall Protection standard, the Z390 Competence and Certification in the Safety Profession standard, and the Z690 project on protecting workers dealing with mold.

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