Friday 1 May 2015

Patent and Licensing Policies Disregard Government Standards on Information Quality and Impact Assessment

U.S. and European government agencies are ignoring government standards on information quality and impact assessment in pursuit of politically-driven policy goals. This disregard is illustrated by the White House’s adoption of wildly-exaggerated cost figures of $83 billion in social costs and $29 billion in direct costs to patent infringement defendants for the alleged “patent troll” problem. It is also manifest in DG GROW’s recent consultation on ICT standards and patents in which it makes unreliable and inflated appraisal of alleged information barriers and harms in standard-essential patent licensing. For example, it bases its assessments on interviews with very few respondents, most of whom are not even from the communications sector which accounts for most SEPs. Interviewee responses are not available for public review: not even in anonymous form.  The agency also neglects to make any impact assessment of its proposed “remedies” for these putative problems.
In these cases, the disregard is from politically-driven desires to undermine patents and the licence fees that are being derived from them.

Standards have been established to safeguard the quality of information and assessments presented to the public by governments in support of their policies. Governments are held to high quality standards because the public relies on information and assessments disseminated by governments and their agencies to a much greater extent than it does with other sources. These standards have been established over decades as elected administrations, and their political leanings and objectives have fluctuated.
The U.S. Congress enacted the Information Quality Act (“IQA”) in order to ensure that information disseminated by government agencies meet the standards of “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity.” 

The European Commission also has information quality standards such as that for questionnaires in surveys-based statistical measurement. According to EC-issued guidelines, “[i]mpact assessment is a set of logical steps to be followed when you prepare policy proposals. It is a process that prepares evidence for political decision-makers on the advantages and disadvantages of possible policy options by assessing their potential impacts.”  The EC has made clear that “all policy decisions should be based on sound analysis supported by the best data available.” At a minimum, non-legislative initiatives should describe “the most significant potential impacts of different approaches”.

My more extensive article, here, shows in greater detail how these quality standards for collecting and analysing information are being flouted.

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