Department of Justice and ASTM

From OPENING MARKETS AND PROTECTING COMPETITION FOR AMERICA'S BUSINESSES AND CONSUMERS  April 7, 1995

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Private Standard Making. The Division has increased its vigilance in the area of private standard setting. While such activities can be beneficial to business and consumers, by facilitating the marketing of products, they can be used by market incumbents to delay the introduction of competitive innovative products. For example, the Division learned that manufacturers of a product had arranged to utilize the American Society for Testing and Materials ("ASTM") standard setting process to blunt the competitive threat to traditional products posed by an innovative product. A proposed amendment to the existing product standard would have had the effect of suspending sales of the innovative product, a suspension that might have lasted several years under ASTM's normal procedures. When the Division's investigation indicated that there was neither a health nor performance justification for delaying the sale of the new product, it prepared to file a civil injunction action. At that point, the ASTM and its members dropped their efforts to change the product standard in a manner that would have had the effect of precluding sales of the new product.

 
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