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.

Second, Jim Bessen discusses his project, Incentives To Create Whose Knowledge?, which will be presented alongside Hrdy's in our panel on "Direct Government Incentives—Procurement and Venture Capital Programs." Bessen states that technologies ranging from computing to wireless communications "were crucially promoted" by government procurement programs, suggesting that incentives for innovators and startups may not be the most important innovation incentives. He argues that the pivotal role of government procurement is not an inherent feature: it "happens when well-designed programs include diverse players, promote knowledge sharing, and establish open standards." His concluding paragraphs echo the theme of our conference: "policy needs to consider the complete innovation 'ecosystem,'" and "patent policy should not be decided in isolation." Watch for commentary on Bessen's and Hrdy's projects from Talha Syed and Arti Rai.

Third, Brett Frischmann and Mark McKenna describe their paper, Comparative Analysis of Failures and Institutions in Context, which will be part of our panel on "Regulation and Institutions." They argue "that many of the most significant contributions in the coming years in the field of intellectual property / information / innovation law and policy will be made by scholars engaged in comparative institutional analysis." Their paper identifies and attempts to remedy two obstacles to such analysis: (1) ambiguity about the normative baseline (what is the goal?); and (2) myopia (focusing only on one market failure and assuming away others). Mark Lemley and Yochai Benkler will be commenting on this important project, and I'm looking forward to their thoughts.

Finally, Georgetown Law Professor Julie Cohen describes her paper The Surveillance-Innovation Complex, which will be the focus of our "Privacy and Innovation Roundtable" (with Bryan Choi, Frank Pasquale, Tal Zarsky, and moderator Margot Kaminski). Cohen notes that privacy and innovation are often viewed as opposites and that "[t]he emerging surveillance-innovation complex . . . casts surveillance in an unambiguously progressive light and repositions it as a modality of economic growth." She argues that privacy and innovation are both constructs, and that the relationship between them has "significant implications for the shape of the regulatory state." Cohen thinks that the surveillance-innovation complex is "not the answer that we should choose."

I'll be posting links to new contributions to our blog symposium as they appear. And if you missed my opening post for the blog symposium, check it out here.

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