Services Standardization in India

The entire focus of standardization in India has been to maintain the quality of the products being produced / assembled by using the instruments of certifications and lab testing which were enforcing the quality by testing through a set of standards earmarked for it. However, the key area which was bringing dollar revenue to India and contributing majorly to GDP was the service sector as well. This area lacks standardization and as such has been adequately focused in the Indian National Strategy for Standardization. (INSS)

The services sector standardization has been adequately focused in the Indian National Strategy for Standardization and has been the driving factor of creating the Service Sector Council in Bureau of Indian Standards. The council is organized for 12 sectors with sub committees for each sector and IT/ITeS happens to be one of them

Before coming to IT/ITeS in particular, let us the see what INSS mentions as the road map for driving standardization in this area.

  • Set up a national task force to accelerate service standards development work
  • Identify service quality gaps, standards required for related infrastructure and occupational skills
  • Develop fast track national standards based on gap analysis
  • Take leadership role in international service standards development work

Limiting the discussion to IT/ITeS services, the difference in services and products has not been made in the international standardization. As such if the same is being attempted in India, it is sure to give an advantage to the service sector with multiple organizations will be able follow the standard approach. This will force the existing organizations to adopt and innovate to remain relevant. Instead of standardization of the entire service sector, we need to see the user interface of the services and that should be standardized. For Example – if you give a call to bank helpline because you have lost the card, you need to be attentive enough to find out the right option to lodge the card lost information. This can be standardized by ensuring that for every bank helpline, the first option is to deal the emergency and then rest of the options follow. Similarly, an ecosystem can be created that whenever you call a helpline and there is wait time, there should be a system to call back within a stipulated time. This will be of value to the users.

There is scope for services improvement and the national task force mentioned in the INSS implemented should take the user point of view for standardization rather than the management point of view which otherwise is well considered in the current ecosystem of International Standardization.

IPR & Standardization

Traditionally Innovation Diffusion happens through IPR and the investment in IPR is driven by the economics around it. Similarly, standardization diffusion happens through adoption and is driven by the ability to benchmark and interoperability. So the Questions which arises are:

  1. Can innovation be driven by Standardization?
  2. How should organisations balance its effort in IPR & Standardization?

Assuming there is sustained effort towards patenting the technology on one hand and increased involvement in standardization efforts on another and there is a balance achieved is some state and form, then the next set of questions which arises are:

  1. Should a organisation Patent be taken forward and driven as Standards? If yes, under what conditions?
  2. Are organisations duty bound to disclose information to Standard Setting Organization about their patents? If yes, what happens if there is a miss in disclosure? Will the organisation be forced to give up their patent rights or what happens when organisation refuses to give up the patent rights?

IPR of Organisations involved in Standardization

Including Patents in Standardization is specific to industry with embedded patents in equipment without separate IPR license is an overall growing area of concern. Some of the examples are:

  • Patents based standardization is common in telecommunication industry and leads to situation of SEP (Standards Essential Patents) with cross licences of SEPs among different industry verticals. Standard organizations like IEEE issue call for patents as part of the standardization process.[1]
  • Standardization in consumer electronics industries happen in consortium basis. Patent pool is a common tool used in this industry.
  • Automotive industry uses collaborative method of R&D to handle the patents issue. It happens on Holst Model.[2]
  • Recipients of this draft are invited to submit, with their comments, notification of any relevant patent rights of which they are aware and to provide supporting documentation.”

IPR Policy of Different Standard Bodies.

Intellectual Property Right policy of various standard organizations wherein we ar going to involve ourselves is mandatory step to move ahead. Let us look at some of the IPR Policies of major organizations:

ISO – All drafts submitted for comment shall include on the cover page the following text:

“Recipients of this draft are invited to submit, with their comments, notification of any relevant patent rights of which they are aware and to provide supporting documentation.”[3]

IEEE – Contributions made by participants in an IEEE-SA standards development or Industry Connections activity meeting, whether the contributions are Published or not, are subject to the IEEE-SA Copyright Policy set forth in Clause 7 of the IEEE-SA Standards Board Bylaws.[4]

Conclusion

Generally RAND conditions and presumption of good faith is followed by different standard bodies and SEP (Standard Essential Patents) are discouraged by Standard Setting organizations. If SEP usage can be made more flexible, the IPR in standardizations will see a major boost.


[1] http://standards.ieee.org/faqs/patents.pdf

[2] http://www.holstcentre.com/about-holst-centre/holst-centre-in-a-nutshell/

[3] http://www.iec.ch/members_experts/tools/patents/documents/ITU-T_ITU-R_ISO_IEC_Common_Guidelines_2015-06-26.pdf

[4] http://standards.ieee.org/develop/policies/opman/sect6.html