Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tun-Jen Chiang on Patentable Subject Matter

Patent law is usually justified on utilitarian grounds. To be sure, significant contrary views have appeared in recent scholarship. For example, Professor Robert Merges’ work provides a partly Lockean account of intellectual property. The dominant view, nonetheless, is that the rules of patent law serve consequentialist goals of inducing invention, commercialization, and disclosure. In support of this view, scholars often cite the moribund state of the “moral utility” doctrine and the Constitution itself, which empowers Congress to enact laws that would “promote the Progress of Science and Useful Arts.” Professor Tun-Jen Chiang’s forthcoming article, “Competing Visions of Patentable Subject Matter,” challenges this account as a descriptive matter insofar as it relates to the judicially recognized exclusions from patentability.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Frakes & Wasserman on Time-Crunched Patent Examiners

Next in my CELS IP recap: Melissa Wasserman (Illinois) presented Is the Time Allocated to Review Patent Applications Inducing Examiners to Grant Invalid Patents?: Evidence from Micro-Level Application Data (coauthored with Michael Frakes at Northwestern). I was delighted to serve as the discussant for this paper, which is the latest in a series of outstanding empirical projects by Frakes & Wasserman on patent examination.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Abrams et al. on Patent Value and Citations

Next up in my CELS IP recap: David Abrams (Penn) presented Patent Value and Citations: Creative Destruction or Strategic Disruption? (with Ufuk Akcigit & Jillian Popadak), for which Browyn Hall served as the discussant. This paper addresses one of the key quandaries of innovation policy: how do you measure innovation?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

CELS Recap Part 1: Laboratory Experiment on the Effect of Competition on Innovation

This past weekend I was a discussant at the 9th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies (CELS) at Berkeley. There were two IP sessions with three papers selected for each, and over the coming days, I'll provide short recaps. First up: Stefan Bechtold (ETH Zurich) presented The Causal Effects of Competition on Innovation: Experimental Economics (co-authored with Philippe Aghion, Lea Cassar & Holger Herz). They designed laboratory games between pairs of student subjects who could "invest" in R&D to test competing theories of the effect of competition on innovation. In the competitive environment, a subject had to be ahead to earn a payoff; in the non-competitive environment, tied subjects could also earn a payoff.