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Archive for the ‘law and economics’ Category

New light from an old source

Posted by Lea on July 20, 2010

I’m working now on a new project, which takes the historic litigation around the light bulb as an entry point to shed new light on the impact of patents upon innovation and access to new technologies.

Image of four light bulbs, in Pop Art style

Thanks to Zetson for the CC-licensed image, via Flickr

More than a century after its introduction, the light bulb remains the defining icon of invention.

Justifiably so, in my opinion, because this widget almost single-handedly drove the demand for electrification.

The light bulb was the “killer app” for electric power, which in turn brought about a new era of technological innovation.

Contrary to popular wisdom, however, Edison’s team was merely one of dozens that co-invented electric light bulb.

Scientifically speaking, his team’s discoveries were neither the first, nor the most important.

What Edison did better than all the other inventors took place not in the laboratory, but in the law office.

His lawyers pursued, obtained, asserted, and litigated key patents on light bulb technology in order to run competing bulb manufacturers out of business or buy them up.

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IP Works in Progress

Posted by Lea on June 25, 2009

I’m just back from the UK, attending a meeting of the Task Force on Intellectual Property Rights and Development.

The group, convened by Joseph Stiglitz, met to workshop chapters for a book that will bring together law and economics perspectives on intellectual property in international perspective.

If you work in this field, you’ll want to check out the working papers now posted online right away. I’ll be adding at least two of these as foundational readings for my students: an essential review of the economics literature on IP and innovation by Adam Jaffe and Albert Hu, and a great discussion of IP and development by Leonardo Burlamqui and Mario Cimoli.

Other highlights: proposals for pharmaceutical innovation prizes by Jamie Love and Tim Hubbard and exceptions and limitations for scientific research by Jerry Reichman and Ruth Okediji.

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