Ester van Zimmeren, University of Antwerp
Exploring Trust Building Mechanisms for Specialized
Intellectual Property Courts
CJEU patent court hasn’t entered into force, but there are local
and regional bodies. Question: will users trust a new court? Trust in the court
and trust in the judges are both important. Trust implies uncertainty about
future behavior. Trust means accepting vulnerability based on positive
expectations of intentions or behavior of another. Relational and dynamic: A
trusts B to do Y. So we need to know who has to trust to think about building
trust. (Quote: will a business trust its crown jewels when it doesn’t know the
court/the judges?) A leap of faith; distrust is not necessarily bad. Boundary-spanners:
persons who interact on behalf of the organization with the outside world: the
judges? Reputation based on case-law national level—including education, expertise/experience
with patent cases, career path (career judges v. recognition judges,
generalized v. specialized judge, etc.), management of litigation process,
Andrew Michaels: Everyone likes to complain about the Fed
Cir, but they are doing their best and he thinks that’s doing ok. Maybe should
invite more judges from other countries to sit in and give new ideas.
A: Japan model: rotate in and out of specialized courts.
District judges can also temporarily sit in on IP high court. Rotations are
usually pretty fast but they can stay longer in the IP courts (rotation is
throughout the system)—interesting balance. JPO also participates—interesting but
are there rule of law issues?
RT: Consider comparison with Facebook Oversight Board (creepily
called the Oversight Board)—because it’s not a governmental organization it has
an extreme relationship to building trust as an adjudicator. Current controversy
over judges talking to journalists.
Glynn Lunney: when Fed Cir was constituted they took the
judges from CCPA and immediately adopted the old precedent as a way of
Margaret Chon: who are the stakeholders? Some of the quotes
suggest that businesses are the ones who need to trust, but if the key were the
public interest, then the question of what the relevant trusting community was
would be different.
Lunney: Why is trust important? Trust or not, you had no
choice but to litigate in front of Fed Cir.
A: because in the EU you do have choices. If you choose
unitary patent, you have to go through the unitary court but you can also use
the traditional European patent systems—and then choose the unitary patent
court, if it ever comes, or choose the traditional parallel litigation
Lunney: will there be a race to the top/race to the bottom?
Compete for patent litigation?
A: that’s a big Q in the debates!
Michael Carroll, American University Washington College of
The Right to Research in US Intellectual Property Law
Context: reframing exceptions and limitations, including subject
matter and scope limits, as user’s rights. Connected to AU’s work on user’s rights
in int’l and comparative law. Focus on basic and applied research in all fields
of inquiry, including humanities—research intended to promote progress of
science and useful arts, commercial and noncommercial.
Right to research is not a single reified legal right, not a
single rightsholder. Drawn from a variety of legal sources—int’l (not in this
paper’s scope), constitutional, statutory, private ordering/open licenses.
Normatively: variety of limiting doctrines loosely cohere into a whole greater
than its parts: user’s rights are enabling provisions and positive goods in IP.
Persuade courts to keep larger whole in view when interpreting and applying
these doctrines; reform doctrines that have been interpreted too narrowly like
experimental use in patent. There are other policy concerns about research such
as privacy, human subjects rules.
Not just a right of researchers, but libraries, archives,
and other intermediaries need to rely on it to collect materials and organize
them as research inputs and distribute them as research outputs. Likewise, open
access is part of the greater whole.
Copyright: incomplete list: ideas/facts/other §102(b) limits when
applicable; fair use (reverse engineering, text and data mining, other forms of
copying); §1201 (too-narrow security research exemption; possible First
Patent: incomplete list: subject matter limits (abstract
ideas, products of nature, natural phenomena); other eligibility limits
(enablement, written description as limits on patenting early stage research);
non obviousness and novelty; disclosure function; experimental use; revisit
need for fair use in patent.
Trade secret: incomplete list: subject matter limits—readily
ascertainable/collectively known; scrutinize whether NDAs in widely distributed
research-relevant info are sufficient to maintain secrecy.
Margaret Chon: research for self-fulfillment? Minaj v.
Chapman, which RT suggested in chat was “experimental use comes to ©,” might be
about creative self-fulfillment as well as ultimately commercial. [Lunney
responds, fairly enough, that this characterization might limit © fair use to
the overly limited patent definition.]
A: He definitely doesn’t want a commercial/noncommercial
divide categorically. He wants to tell a users’ rights counterstory focused on increasing
knowledge. [But doesn’t that require you to take a stand on what counts as
knowledge? Is only using big data to create a new historical interpretation
within scope? If you (or the library on your behalf—v important during Covid)
make copies of a set of individual works and you analyze them and create a new
historical interpretation, I assume that counts. So is it fiction/nonfiction
that’s the divide?]
Betsy Rosenblatt: Carys Craig has written about the pitfalls
of calling anything a user’s right—may want to engage with that. This project
seems useful in discussing §1201. Justification for infringement nexus; many
proposed exceptions are also for research. Does my big library of TV shows make
me a researcher?
A: It could—he sees Minaj as definitely within scope b/c it’s
not substitutional copying. That’s the flexibility of fair use: copying for the
purpose of research is fair use, but copying for the purpose of just watching
the stuff and enjoying it is not. Artists and critics, both getting ready to do
something new, are also engaged in research.
Eric Johnson, University of Oklahoma College of Law
An Intellectual Property Fix for Platformer Sales-jacking
Platforms like Amazon and Apple create a marketplace for independent
retailers, but also compete on their own platforms. They cherry pick the best
and copy them, crushing the independent sellers. What to call this? Information
appropriation (Lina Khan) doesn’t seem illuminating. Platform information
appropriation? Sales-jacking, like hijacking. [In comments, Brian Frye suggests
calling it “competition.”]
Antitrust has been suggested as a solution, but this isn’t
anti-competitive; it is anti-innovative. [Isn’t one of the recognized harms of
monopoly that it harms innovation?] It’s worth considering this as an IP
challenge. The harm is to soft innovation—market insights, product ideas, etc.—things
not patentable or ©able. Soft innovation used to be protected by friction, first
mover advantage. Frictionless commerce leads to appropriability, so incentives
decrease. This soft innovation is important for econ growth and worth worrying
Retail data right: prevent market participant side of
platform from using data from market provider side: for some period of time?,
unless paying a royalty? Sounds like an antitrust enforcement issue, but could
be a general retail data right. [using data to do what? Can you recruit other
sellers for Etsy by showing that macrame is selling well?]
Contracting/bargains: we don’t want the platform firm to require
contracting out from all participants, but maybe collective
bargaining/performing rights organization model, PRO model is largely shaped by
antitrust [this sure sounds like reinventing antitrust]
Requirements separating market provider decisionmaking and
participant decisionmaking, which he acknowledges also sounds like antitrust.
RT: [bracketed comments above] I think this is INS v. AP for
Amazon: a quasi property right. Look at the challenges of providing a right
only against platforms by looking at the example of India, where Amazon had a
variety of relations with big sellers (and appears to have violated Indian
rules about vertical separation). The issue of barring only platforms from
doing this copying would reduce to an antitrust issue of ensuring vertical
A: Agree that antitrust is also about innovation.
Tyler Ochoa: Thinks this is an antitrust problem; why doesn’t
divesting vertically solve the problem? US v. Paramount Pictures: studios were
forced to divest theaters: supplier should not own channels of distribution.
Rosenblatt: Not convinced this is a problem. This is
competing: how does it differ from ordinary competitive behavior that we think is
good for consumers? The reason is the platform has info about sales and pricing
that’s harder for other third parties to find. Isn’t this only a regular trade
dress/design patent issue; otherwise product-jacking means “the market working
the way we want it to”?
A: not necessarily a problem, but risks. No way to
appropriate returns from doing the research for, e.g., going to India and
discovering just the right jam to import.
Lunney (chat): Can streaming music services make their own
content in your regime?
Chon: This is an inequality problem, not (just) an antitrust
problem: wealth accumulates in one direction. That’s not an IP problem as such,
but Jeff Bezos needs no more money. It’s the small business that needs more
Lunney: Amazon reaching equilibrium—it is in their interest
to have small sellers to make these discoveries, so they have an incentive to
refrain from swooping in too quickly. Consider that? May not be persuasive.
[Especially given the different incentives within the firm; eating one’s seed
corn is unfortunately standard.]
Rosenblatt: Agree with Chon: we should acknowledge that we
think this is a broken market where small businesses are being crowded out and
frame it not as harm to innovation but harm to development of small businesses.
A: Antitrust today doesn’t care about inequality [though I
take the Khan et al position to be that it should] but it at least purports to
care about innovation. There are good reasons to believe that inequality hurts
Rosenblatt: It’s also just bad.
Chon: Amazon needs different incentives.
A: historically they bought Zappos and Diapers.com but now
they don’t have to do that b/c everyone starts selling from Amazon in the first
place and can just take over the products w/o having to buy them out.
Carroll: This isn’t problematic until you hit a certain
level of scale—antitrust historically comes in as a circuit breaker—this is the
issue w/ Etsy.
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