Three Notre Dame law professors and faculty fellows of the ND research program on Law and Market Behavior (LAMB) recently participated in a conference on Competition Policy, Innovation, and Procurement, on December 16-17, 2015 in Toulouse. The conference was co-sponsored by ND LAMB and the French Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST). Avishalom Tor, Professor of Law and Director, ND LAMB, offered opening remarks. and Professors McKenna and Yelderman in turn presented their recent work on the boundaries of IP generally and patent policy specifically. One conference highlight was a keynote address by recent Nobel Laureate Professor Jean Tirole, Chairman of Toulouse School of Economics.
Mark McKenna, Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School and ND LAMB Faculty Fellow, and Christopher Springman, Professor of Law, New York University Law School co-presented What’s In, and What’s Out: How IP’s Boundary Rules Shape Innovation. Their presentation focused on the argument that the lines we draw between IP’s categories are not stable and that they reflect intuitions expressed imperfectly in doctrine. These intuitions and the resulting categorization have implications – usually unstated – for what sorts of innovation will be produced with the IP rules we have. Professors McKenna and Sprigman discussed the theoretical adequacy of IP’s own account of its internal structure, questioning whether that account is reflected in doctrine that is stable and capable of providing broadly predictable answers to categorization questions.
Stephen Yelderman, Associate Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School and ND LAMB Faculty Fellow, presented Coordination-Focused Patent Policy. His presentation explored the practical consequences of an important shift that has recently taken place in patent theory. Although it was long agreed that the purpose of granting patents is to reward invention, today many scholars instead attempt to justify the patent system based on its role in facilitating information exchange and enabling technical coordination among firms. Yelderman’s presentation developed a set of mid-level principles from coordination theory and showed how these principles lead to different outcomes for a number of important patent policy questions when compared to the traditional rewards-focused approach.