The Unicode® Consortium Antitrust Policy & Guidelines

The Consortium's Policy

The Unicode Consortium (Unicode, Inc.) is a nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation organized not for private profit or gain, but for public and charitable purposes. The specific purpose of the Consortium is to enable people around the world to use computers in any language by providing freely available standards, specifications, data, and tools to form the foundation for software internationalization in all major operating systems, search engines, applications, and the worldwide web.

Standards increase innovation, efficiency, and consumer choice and so are generally seen as procompetitive, including those standards that promote interoperability, such as the Consortium’s. However, because the Consortium’s activities necessarily require communication and coordination among competitors, they must be conducted in ways that fully comply with antitrust and competition laws.

Attention to compliance is especially important because the penalties for violating antitrust laws can be severe, including large fines and even imprisonment for individuals in criminal enforcement. Accordingly,

It is the express policy of the Unicode Consortium to comply fully with all applicable antitrust and competition laws and to conduct Consortium business in a manner that ensures compliance.

This Policy document is intended to provide guidance to all Consortium members and participants regarding how to conduct Consortium meetings and other activities in compliance with antitrust and competition laws. All Consortium members and participants are required to follow the policies and guidelines set forth here.

Antitrust Law & Standards Organizations

Although there are procompetitive benefits to standard setting, conduct at a standards organization often involves agreements among competitors, which triggers potential antitrust concerns about collusion. Specifically, there is some potential for the standards process to be misused to engage in behavior that could violate antitrust and unfair competition laws. This includes laws that prohibit agreements between two or more parties that unreasonably restrain trade.

The antitrust laws bar (among other things) competitors from agreeing, either expressly or implicitly, not to compete with one another. Some examples include agreements to fix (agree on) current or future prices, allocate product or geographic markets, allocate customers, limit production, boycott new entrants, or prohibit those using the standard from using another standard or technology.

The Consortium's guidelines

In order to ensure that the Consortium complies with antitrust and competition laws, the most important principle is to remain focused solely on its authorized standards activities. It is also helpful to have some clear “Dos and Don’ts” to ensure compliance, which follow below. Bear in mind that these Dos and Don'ts highlight only the most basic antitrust principles. Participants in Unicode Consortium meetings and other activities should consult Unicode legal counsel or their own company’s legal counsel if there are questions.


DO NOT, in fact or appearance, discuss or exchange commercially or competitively sensitive information including but not limited to the topics below. Bear in mind that these topics should not be discussed regardless of venue, whether in technical meetings, Board meetings, other committee meetings, or social gatherings incidental to Consortium activities.


DO ensure that Consortium assets, resources, infrastructure, and meetings are used only for authorized Consortium purposes and activities.

DO understand the authority and purpose of each Unicode committee or other group in which you participate and keep meetings focused on the authorized purpose.

DO follow the Technical Committee Procedures for the Unicode Consortium. In particular, ensure that Technical Committee and all other meetings are transparent and documented so that there is a clear record that only legally appropriate topics were discussed during such meetings, as follows:

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