News and Commentary
Good news from the Tar Heel State: Judge Thomas Schroeder of the Middle District of North Carolina has declined a motion to dismiss a claim under the North Carolina Abusive Patent Assertions Act against patent troll Landmark Technology brought by NAPCO Inc. Landmark unsuccessfully challenged the North Carolina law on a number of constitutional grounds.
Writing for Brookings, Alex Engler discusses the benefits of open source software (OSS) to the development of artificial intelligence. OSS is a double-edge sword as it relates to competition in tech (availability is a boon to would-be competitors but can encourage lock-in effects) but it significantly boosts innovative progress, as it marries the independent incentives to develop the best AI with the ability to piggy-back on the work of previous researchers.
In Patently-O, Jason Rantanen has a brief blog post examining utility patent grants from 1840 to 2020. While data for 2021 aren’t fully published, if the present pace is kept there will be around 335,000 patents granted in 2021, less than 2020’s 356,640.
Gerald Barnett continues his discussion of federal research policy, FSA 110 and the safeguards (or lack thereof) associated with patenting the fruits of government-supported research. In it, he critiques the idea that if open access won’t get the job done, then exclusivity is the only alternative. Nonprofits, government funding for distribution and achieving practical application, and other alternatives exist and may be preferable alternatives to exclusivity if open access isn’t the best model.
Thomas Cotter has published the third edition of his open-source casebook, Remedies in U.S. Patent Law.
Writing for American Libraries, Mary Minow provides a rundown of the ways regular library practices can run into issues related to copyright law and the various legal shields libraries have to prevent liability for copyright infringement.
A new paper from NBER examines the role the potential for patent hold-up can play in motivating mergers. The authors find that inventors’ patents for the acquired firm become “28.9% to 46.8% more specific to those of acquirers’ inventors following completed mergers, benchmarked against patents filed by targets and a group of counterfactual acquirers” with stronger effects for mergers with specialized investments. These findings suggest that a strong motivation for acquiring a firm comes from the resultant removal of the need to deal with licensing agreements.
A chapter in the forthcoming fourth volume of the Handbook of Industrial Organization discusses various market failures in innovation markets and how both public policy and norms within scientific communities can address them.