Re: [antitrust-policy] An antitrust memo strawman

"John Levine" <> Sun, 22 January 2012 05:16 UTC

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Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2012 05:16:27 -0000
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From: John Levine <>
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Subject: Re: [antitrust-policy] An antitrust memo strawman
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>It seems to me that the information will be most effective if if is cast
>in light of IETF activities.  So, how would the strawman be different in
>providing the desired information (other than removing the RFC 2119

A perfectly reasonable question.  I took your strawman and massaged it
a little, and added a short summary of what antitrust law is about,
so it's not just a laundry list.


----- snip ----
Existing IETF process and procedures were specifically designed to avoid
problems with antitrust and competition laws.  The IETF has an open
decision process, explicit rules for intellectual property, and a
well-defined appeals process.  All of these contribute to the robust
standards development process used by the IETF.

Yet, it is worth reminding all IETF participants that all IETF
meetings, including virtual meetings, shall be conducted in compliance
with all applicable laws, including antitrust and competition laws.
This memo describes some aspects of antitrust and competition law that
may apply to IETF participants.

IETF meeting participants come from all over the world, and include
people whose employers are competitors.  Antitrust and competition
laws forbid some kinds of agreements between competitors, such as
price fixing (agreements on product pricing), bid rigging
(coordination of nominally competitive bids), refusal to deal, tying
(requring that products be bought together), and geographic market

Activities that may be or or appear to be anti-competitive practices
include those where participants:

 - discuss product prices, product profits, internal product cost,
   bidding, terms of bidding, allocation of customers, division of
   sales markets, sales territories, or marketing strategies;

 - condition or discuss conditioning the implementation of an IETF 
   specification on the implementer's use of products or services from
   a particular supplier or suppliers;

 - discuss agreements to collectively refuse or conditionally refuse to
   do business with a particular supplier;

 - suggest any action for the purpose of giving one company or a few
   companies significant competitive advantage over others;

 - present or exchange proprietary information related to any of
   the topics above; or

 - share non-public status or substance of ongoing or threatened

Under existing IPR rules, all IETF meeting participants MUST disclose
patents or patent applications reasonably and personally known to
them.  Please review the IETF IPR rules in RFC 3979.

Activities unlikely to be or appear to be anti-competitive practices
include those where participants:

 - discuss technical considerations of any proposals, including relative
   costs to implement, operate, and support them;

 - discuss licensing costs of essential patent claims associated with
   different technical approaches;

 - discuss the likelihood that adoption of a particular technical
   approach would subject implementers to a greater or lesser risk of
   patent litigation;

 - discuss or present broad market potential or market requirements for
   informational purposes.

The IETF does not provide legal advice, and this memo is not intended
to be a substitute for legal advice, or for a participant's employer's
competition or anti-trust policies or practices.