WASHINGTON - President Bush has signed into law legislation intended to help standards developing organizations (SDOs), such as the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), avert "unnecessary and costly" litigation (treble damages) against SDOs that have no commercial interest in technical specifications contained in their standards.

The new law encourages SDOs to develop standards, especially for use by government, by offering a new degree of limited relief from existing anti-trust laws, says ARI. The act, called the "Standards Development Organization Advancement Act of 2003," amends the "National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993," which provides limited anti-trust protection to participants in cooperative research and production activities. The new law recognizes the assistance that SDOs provide to government agencies in developing standards for regulatory and procurement purposes.

ARI notes that it supported passage of the bill and worked with other standards developers on a group headed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop the law's concept and language. ARI and other standards developers believe that their standards activities provide a public service in the national interest, and that the threat of treble damages under the existing anti-trust law had a chilling effect on standards development in the United States.

To be eligible for the protection of the Act, ARI has filed the necessary information on the scope and nature of its standards activities with the U.S. Department of Justice for approval as a qualified SDO.

Publication date: 08/23/2004