Intellectual Property and Antitrust Law

This course is a seminar which fulfills the writing requirement. The basic subject matter of the course is the interplay, and developing modes of analysis to strike a proper balance, between principles of protecting intellectual property and rewarding authors or inventors on the one hand and, on the other, society's interest in free competition and wide dissemination of discoveries. After a brief overview of the patent system and basics of intellectual property law and theory, the course considers problems that may be encountered in the acquisition, enforcement and exploitation of intellectual property. These include fraud or inequitable conduct in obtaining patents, bringing infringement litigation without reasonable basis, settlement of intellectual property disputes, and acquisitions of intellectual property from third parties by one with a dominant or potentially dominant industry position. We examine the role of antitrust or competition law in sale and licensing transactions, including issues of parallel imports and misuse. Attention is also given to research and development joint ventures, cross-licensing and standard-setting issues, and the concept of "innovation markets." Although past experience suggests that there will probably be a number of people in the class with an interest in patent law, the course is not in any sense a technical one requiring either a scientific background or substantial patent or other intellectual property experience. The primary focus of the seminar is domestic, but some international concepts and developments will be discussed, particularly comparisons between US and EU law. This is also an area where change is afoot. In April of 1995 the Justice Department and the FTC promulgated well-publicized joint guidelines covering the antitrust treatment of intellectual property (which we will review as the semester proceeds) and have made news with major enforcement efforts and policy statements. Major issues have also been decided recently in European fora. The course will explore such recent developments and attempt to place them in context as they occur. There will also be discussion and exercises based on some hypothetical problems.
Credits: 2

Type: LEC