Leading IP Scholars Sharing their Works

(IPRinfo 4/2008)

Rosa Maria Ballardini
HANKEN School of Economics & INNOCENT Graduate School, IPR University Center. Visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, Boalt Hall

Juha Vesala
Researcher, University of Helsinki.
Transatlantic Technology Law Forum Fellow, Stanford Law School

The Intellectual Property Scholars Conference is a yearly event that has been organized for the past eight years. Each year, the conference brings together IP scholars – mostly from the US -, who are given the opportunity to present their works in progress and benefit from the comments of the various experts in the field of intellectual property attending.

This year the IPSC was hosted by the Program in Law, Science and Technology at Stanford Law School. The IPSC 2008 included two plenary sessions, and twenty-four breakout sessions running on parallel tracks. For two days the conference provided to the 150 attendees for an opportunity to listen to and comment presentations by renowned intellectual property experts elaborating on a variety of issues in the different fields of intellectual property law.

The Conference was opened by Professor Mark Lemley, who gave a presentation on the Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse (IPLC), a project developed at Stanford Law School. IPLC aims at creating a comprehensive online information source on IP lawsuits, hosting general statistical information, complaints, judicial opinions, and related data.

The first plenary session kicked off with Professor Marc McKenna, who presented an interesting paper on the scope of modern trade mark law, with particular emphasis on the need to pose more attention on the various facets of the concept of ”confusion”. The next presenter, Christopher Cotropia, explored the rethinking of the patent system throughout the postponing of the filing of the applications to a subsequent phase, as a tool to reduce the number of issued patents.

This was followed by a paper by Prof. Wendy Gordon on how to incorporate the ”gift exchange” model into the IP law, in order for the system to serve ’economic, personal, social and humanitarian’ ends. The first plenary session neared the end with the last speaker, Prof. Frank Pasquale, who presented a paper on intermediaries’ responsibilities on the Internet.

Themes varied from ownership of jokes to antitrust law
The six breakout sessions saw the participants spread in four parallel sessions, each focusing on one of the main fields of intellectual property law or specific aspects of thereof (e.g. copyright, patents, trademarks, and IP and society).

The rise of empirical research methods in IP scholarship was apparent, as several presentations were based on the analysis of qualitative or quantitative data. For example, one paper based on interviews of stand-up comedians explored the social norms among the comedians and how the ownership of jokes, copying thereof and exchange of jokes are primarily regulated by social norms rather than by copyright law.

The conference’s official program concluded with the second plenary session. Prof. Jennifer Rothman argued that the substantive due process requirement could provide, in copyright law, a justification for uses of copyrighted works which are closely connected with an individual’s identity.

She was followed by Prof. Robin Feldman who examined how concepts such as ´exclusivity´ or ´monopoly´ are understood differently in patent law and in antitrust law, and how that might jeopardize the dialogue between the antitrust and the patent communities and the proper application of patent and antitrust laws. Finally, Prof. David McGowan argued that although facts help reach a consensus between contrasting views, some copyright doctrines unnecessarily prevent litigants from presenting facts that would be relevant for the underlying policy concepts.

Overall, the organizers should be congratulated. They had managed to attract a respectable group of leading IP scholars to share and discuss their latest works, and to maintain an open and informal atmosphere in the academic sessions as well as in the conference’s social events.

The conference was organized by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, UC Berkeley School of Law; the Intellectual Property Law Program, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University; the Center for Intellectual Property Law and Information Technology, DePaul University College of Law; and the Stanford Program in Law, Science & Technology, Stanford Law School.