Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Arewa: Welcome to Nollywood

How should Nollywood, the rapidly growing film industry in Nigeria, protect its intellectual property (IP)? Professor Olufunmilayo B. Arewa (University of California Irvine) addresses this question in her article, The Rise of Nollywood: Creators, Entrepreneurs, and Pirates. Her article explains that a weak infrastructure coupled with a fast-paced evolution of the industry created a "leapfrog" effect in which the industry skipped through stages of the development life-cycle. As a result, certain stages of both business and law did not have sufficient time to develop. These weak environments led to the unauthorized distribution of films and copyright violations through piracy. Professor Arewa's article suggests that to sustain growth not only will Nollywood need to better enforce IP rights, but it will also need to encourage a business strategy to monetize piracy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Gugliuzza Debate: Rethinking Federal Circuit Jurisdiction

This blog recently featured an impressive and provocative article by Paul Gugliuzza titled Rethinking Federal Circuit Jurisdiction (original post) addressing what many scholars consider the "patent crisis." Now thirty years since its creation, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has in recent years increasingly become the subject of heated contention and widespread criticism within the intellectual property community. Since appearing in the June 2012 edition, the proposals set forth by Professor Gugliuzza to reconfigure the Federal Circuit's jurisdiction have triggered a debate at the Georgetown Law Journal. Two engaging response comments have been submitted, followed by a reply from Professor Gugliuzza. The remainder of this post highlights the key aspects of this debate.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Perzanowski on Tattoo IP Norms

Here's a fun paper for a Sunday afternoon: in Intellectual Property Norms in the Tattoo Industry, Aaron Perzanowski (Wayne State, currently visiting at Notre Dame) argues that despite the availability of copyright protection, the tattoo industry relies on "a complex set of social norms enforced through informal mechanisms" to resolve disputes over copying.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Classic Patent Scholarship

The primary focus of this blog is new IP scholarship, but it is often hard to appreciate (and even harder to write) new scholarship without understanding the historical context of the work. So what are the classic works of IP scholarship that young scholars should be aware of?

Friday, October 12, 2012

More Software Patent Commentary

Software patents are a hot topic these days! Three weeks ago, I posted about Lemley's proposal to fix software patents with functional claiming, and last week I summarized various "software patent solutions" offered by patent scholars at Santa Clara's upcoming conference. Tim Lee wrote for Ars Technica and Forbes about the Federal Circuit's responsibility for the "recent explosion of patent litigation in the software industry," prompting rebuttals from Gene Quinn at IP Watchdog. Then the New York Times ran a front-page article (and NPR had a related interview) describing how "the marketplace for new ideas has been corrupted by software patents used as destructive weapons," prompting another response from Quinn, in which he argued that this "arms race" is exactly what the patent system is meant to encourage.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mulligan: Numerus Clausus for IP

Should the number of ways to transfer intellectual property rights be limited? Real property may only be held in certain standardized forms (fee simple, lease, etc.), a principle first termed "numerus clausus" ("the number is closed") by Merrill & Smith in a 2000 Yale Law Journal article. "The justifications for the numerus clausus principle in real property law are even stronger in the intellectual property context," argues Christina Mulligan (Yale Law School Information Society Project) in her forthcoming article, A Numerus Clausus Principle for Intellectual Property.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Top 10 New IP Paper Downloads

Here's an updated list of the most downloaded IP papers that were posted on SSRN in the past 60 days:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chinese IP Law

This is a guest post by Camilla Hrdy (, a Visiting Fellow with the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Software Patent Solutions

Readers who have been following our recent posts on Lemley's software patent solution might be interested in Santa Clara's upcoming conference, Solutions to the Software Patent Problem, on November 16, 2012. Want to know what the speakers have already said about software patents?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fairfield - Avatar Experimentation

How can virtual world researchers minimize the effects of their research on study populations? Messages, apps, and notifications retrieved by hand-held devices have amalgamated the real world and virtual world. As the line distinguishing the worlds fades, Joshua Fairfield, in Avatar Experimentation: Human Subjects Research in Virtual Worlds, offers comprehensive guidelines for approaching research in virtual worlds. Fairfield advises researchers to recognize the risk of real harm to a human research subject’s real world identity, role in the virtual community, real and virtual economic investments, and virtual reputation. The article first recognizes the challenges of ethical experimental design in the virtual world and culminates by recommending helpful approaches to virtual world research.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Buccafusco & Heald: Copyright Extensions

Should Congress consider extending copyrights yet again to prevent works from entering the public domain in 2018? No, argue Christopher Buccafusco (Chicago-Kent) and Paul Heald (Illinois and CIPPM) in Do Bad Things Happen When Works Enter the Public Domain?: Empirical Tests of Copyright Term Extension (forthcoming in BTLJ). Based on existing evidence and their own creative experiments, they conclude that bad things do not happen when works enter the public domain, and that "the significant costs of additional copyright protection for already-existing works are not justified by the benefits claimed for it."