Friday, March 28, 2014

#BeyondIP Blog Symposium

On Sunday the Yale Law School Information Society Project is hosting our Innovation Law Beyond IP conference, at which I'll be moderating the plenary session and presenting Beyond the Patents-Prizes Debate (coauthored with Daniel Hemel). Participants have been blogging about the conference papers at Balkinization, and you can see my summaries of some of these posts here, here, and here. Here is a list of all the blog posts, organized by conference panel. (I will update this list as more posts are added, including after the conference.)

Monday, March 24, 2014

#BeyondIP Blog Symposium: Burstein & Murray, Masur, Lobel, Pasquale, and Zarsky

Since my prior two updates, we have five new posts in the Innovation Law Beyond IP blog symposium. First, Michael Burstein and Fiona Murray described their new paper on Governing Innovation Prizes. They note that real-world prizes are different from those modeled in the economic literature, and they begin to remedy this empirical gap through a case study of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Article: Deference Mistakes

Professor Jonathan Masur and I have posted a draft of our new article, Deference Mistakes, on SSRN. This article is more trans-substantive than my prior work, but it still has a significant IP angle. Here is the abstract:
This Article begins with what should seem a relatively straightforward proposition: it is impossible to fully understand the holding of a case without understanding its “deference regime”—the standard of review or burden of proof that governs the case. If a court holds in the context of a habeas petition that a constitutional right was not “clearly established,” that does not mean that the court would hold that the right does not exist were it writing on a blank slate. If a court refuses to invalidate a granted patent, which is presumed valid and can only be held invalid upon a showing of clear and convincing evidence, that does not mean that the court believes the patent should have been granted in the first place. And if an appellate court holds that a trial court’s ruling was not “plain error,” that does not mean that the appellate court believes the trial court necessarily reached the correct result or would have affirmed the ruling if the review were more searching.
Yet in case after case, we find that judges (and their clerks) confuse one deference regime for another or ignore deference entirely. In so doing, they make what we term deference mistakes. Courts in standard criminal cases regularly rely upon habeas precedents holding that a federal right was not “clearly established” to conclude that the right does not exist. The Federal Circuit and the Patent and Trademark Office regularly rely on precedents involving granted patents (which are presumed valid) to justify granting new patents (which are not entitled to that presumption). And courts of appeals regularly rely upon “plain error” precedents to justify holdings in cases where the standard of review is less deferential.
Although the problem of deference mistakes cuts across legal doctrines, it has been neither identified nor described in prior scholarship. Our article presents a multitude of examples of deference mistakes in practice and explains why they are likely to occur. Deference mistakes may seem relatively innocuous, particularly if they are confined to individual cases. But that appearance is misleading. We develop a theoretical model of how deference mistakes, coupled with particular asymmetries in adjudication, can generate systematic shifts in legal doctrine. Deference mistakes may have contributed to the current patent crisis by adding to the proliferation of bad patents. They may also be partly responsible for retrenchment in the law of constitutional criminal procedure rights or the pro-employer shift in employment discrimination law. After analyzing the potential for deference mistakes to affect the long-term evolution of the law, we discuss potential solutions.
We welcome your comments and suggestions!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

#BeyondIP Blog Symposium: Golden & Wiseman, Vertinsky, Pager, and Silbey

Following up on my opening post and our first four contributions, we have another four posts in the Innovation Law Beyond IP blog symposium at Balkinization. First, John Golden and Hannah Wiseman describe their paper, The Fracking Revolution: A Case Study in Policy Levers to Promote Innovation, which will be presented in our "Comparing Innovation Policy Levers" along with my paper with Daniel Hemel. Golden and Wiseman's study of public policies behind the fracking boom reveals a "complex backstory [that] features multiple significant roles for government action" including "government-funded R&D, tax and regulatory relief, and a FERC-sanctioned surcharge on interstate gas that financed the private Gas Research Institute." While a case study does not provide "universal truths," it does reaffirm the government's capacity to use a diverse policy mix. "The relatively modest role of patents in the story behind the shale gas boom suggests that, under appropriate circumstances, a mix of alternative policy levers can substitute for the benefits often thought to be supplied by patents."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

#BeyondIP Blog Symposium: Hrdy, Bessen, Frischmann & McKenna, and Cohen

Four new posts in the Innovation Law Beyond IP blog symposium at Balkinization! First, Camilla Hrdy describes her paper Local Commercialization Incentives, which she has also blogged about here. In this paper, Hrdy questions whether proposals for "commercialization patents" would actually be preferable to the many "commercialization awards" that national and local governments already provide through direct financing, and she also contributes to the federalism literature by arguing that such awards may be better administered at the local level.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Innovation Law Beyond IP Pre-Conference Blog Symposium at Balkinization

Today I launched our blog symposium for the upcoming Innovation Law Beyond IP conference at Balkinization:
On Sunday, March 30, the Yale Law School Information Society Project is hosting a conference on Innovation Law Beyond IP. To expand the discussion beyond our one day in New Haven, participants will be blogging here over the coming weeks with some initial thoughts on the conference papers, and more broadly on how we should define our field as scholars as innovation. To kick off this symposium, I’ll say a bit about the article I’m presenting, Beyond the Patents–Prizes Debate (coauthored with Daniel Hemel and recently published in the Texas Law Review), and how it fits with the broader conference agenda.
Continuing reading at Balkinization. I'll be posting links to new posts over the coming weeks.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

In Memoriam: Sarah Tran

I was deeply saddened to hear that my co-blogger, SMU Law Professor Sarah Tran, has lost her battle with leukemia at age 34. This post from SMU describes some highlights of her incredible life, and this story describes her amazing resolve to continue teaching despite her illness, but neither can fully capture her warmth, generosity, courage, or boundless optimism and enthusiasm. Her legal scholarship (including important work on the PTO's administrative powers) is available here, and her many contributions to Written Description are available here. Sarah will be sorely missed by many, including the patent law community. I hope Written Description readers who have enjoyed her work will consider making a contribution to the fund that has been created to support her two young children, the Tran Children Development Fund.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Do We Need More IP To Promote Commercialization?

The patent system already protects inventors' exclusive rights in their "novel" and "nonobvious" inventions. But do we also need intellectual property rights to promote commercialization? In their influential article Intellectual Property for Market ExperimentationMichael Abramowicz and John Duffy concluded that we might. Just as technical information is subject to free riding by competitors, so is information generated from marketing a new product to the public or a game-changing business model. And "[j]ust as patents encourage risky but ultimately beneficial technological experimentation," they conclude, "some form of intellectual property protection" for "economically nonobvious" products "could result in a socially beneficial increase in market experimentation and entrepreneurial activity."