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知识产权:一般理论
文/Peter S. Menell

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: GENERAL THEORIES
Peter S. Menell
Professor of Law and Co-Director
Berkeley Center for Law and Technology
University of California at Berkeley
© Copyright 1999 Peter S. Menell

Abstract
This chapter surveys and synthesizes the deepening and widening theoretical
landscape of intellectual property. Not surprisingly, the principal
philosophical theory applied to the protection of utilitarian works - that is,
technological inventions - has been utilitarianism. Utilitarian theorists
generally endorse the creation of intellectual property rights as an
appropriate means to foster innovation. Non-utilitarian theorists emphasize
creators’ moral rights to control their work. Many of these scholars draw
upon multiple philosophical strands in constructing their analyses.
JEL classification: K11
Keywords: Copyrights, Patents, Utilitarianism

1. Introduction

The theory of intellectual property has not, until recently, attracted much
philosophical interest or been the subject of deep controversy. Utilitarian
theorists generally endorsed the creation of intellectual property rights as an
appropriate means to foster innovation, subject to the caveat that such rights
are limited in duration so as to balance the social welfare loss of monopoly
exploitation. Non-utilitarian theorists emphasized creators’ moral rights to
control their work. With the increasing importance of intellectual property
in society and the development of particular new technologies, most notably
digital technology and the decoding of genetic structure, the theory of
intellectual property has attracted heightened interest. Economists and
policy analysts have greatly enriched our understanding of the complex
relationship between intellectual property protection and innovation and
diffusion of technological advances. Non-utilitarian theories of intellectual
property have proliferated in recent years, as philosophers and legal scholars
have applied traditional and novel philosophical perspectives to the realm of
intellectual property. This article surveys and synthesizes the deepening and
widening theoretical landscape of intellectual property. While much of the
discussion transcends the law of any particular nation, the statutory and
doctrinal examples are drawn principally from the particularities of the
Unites States intellectual property regimes.

A. Utilitarian/Economic Theories of Intellectual Property

Not surprisingly, the principal philosophical theory applied to the protection
of utilitarian works - that is, technological inventions - has been
utilitarianism (Merges, et al., 1997, pp. 135-136 hereinafter cited as MMLJ;
Machlup, 1958). The social value of utilitarian works lies principally if not
exclusively in their ability to perform tasks (for example, a better mousetrap)
or satisfy desires more effectively or at lower costs. It is logical, therefore,
that society would seek to protect such works within a governance regime
that itself is based upon utilitarian precepts. Furthermore, inventions - new
processes, machines, manufactures, or compositions of matter - unlike
artistic or literary expression do not generally implicate personal interests of
the creator. (For a discussion of the application of non-utilitarian theories to
patent law, see Oddi, 1996, pp. 274-277, discussing reward-based and
natural law theories; Becker, 1993, noting intuitive appeal of entitlementbased
arguments.) The United States Constitution expressly conditions the
grant of power to Congress to create patent and copyright laws upon a
utilitarian foundation: ‘to Promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts’.
Economic theory, a particular instantiation of utilitarianism, has provided
the principal framework for analyzing intellectual property.

In addition, the utilitarian perspective has relevance to other forms of
intellectual property. Trade secret law often protects utilitarian works
(MMLJ, 1997, pp. 34-36; Scheppele, 1988). Trademark law is principally
concerned with ensuring that consumers are not misled in the marketplace
and hence is particularly amenable to economic analysis (Economides,
1988). Even copyright law, which implicates a broader array of personal
interests of the creator than patent law, may benefit from the application of
the utilitarian framework to the extent that society seeks the production and
diffusion of literary and artistic works. Hadfield (1992) provides a thorough
historical survey of economic theories of copyright; see also Goldstein (1995,
ch. 5) and Plant (1934b). The utilitarian framework has been particularly
central to the development of copyright law in the United States. The
Congressional Committee reporting on the 1909 Copyright Act stated: ‘The
enactment of copyright legislation by Congress under the terms of the
Constitution is not based upon any natural right that the author has in his
writings, ... but upon the ground that the welfare of the public will be served
... by securing to authors for limited periods the exclusive rights to their
writings’. (H.R. Rep. No. 2222, 60th Cong., 2nd Sess. 7, 1909. See also
Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 219, 1954; MMLJ, 1997, pp. 326-328).

2. Historical Background

Utilitarian theories of intellectual property developed and evolved in a
symbiotic relationship with the evolution of the modern state: from the
formation and maturation of the mercantilist nation-states through the
Industrial Revolution to the rise of the modern capitalist economy. Most
early scholars focused upon what Merges (1995b) calls the ‘Grand
Question’: whether state-created intellectual property rights should exist at
all. More recently, attention has shifted toward the design of intellectual
property rules and institutions.

Intellectual property rights emerged during the early mercantilist period
as a means for nation-states to unify and increase their power and wealth
through the development of manufactures and the establishment of foreign
trading monopolies. The term patent, derived from the Latin patere (to be
open), refers to an open letter of privilege from the government to practice
an art (MMLJ, 1997, p. 122). The Venetian Senate enacted the first patent
statute in 1474 providing the maker of any ‘new and ingenious device ...
reduced to perfection so that it can be used and operated’ an exclusive
license of 10 years to practice the invention. Other nations followed suit and
the granting of limited monopolies for inventions, and later to publishers
and authors of literary works, became the dominant means of promoting
innovation and literature (Hadfield, 1992; Merges, 1995b; MMLJ, 1997).
The philosophy of intellectual property developed in response to the use of
monopoly power to spur innovation. Adam Smith (1776, pp. 277-278),
while generally critical of monopoly power as detrimental to the operation of
the ‘invisible hand’, nonetheless justified the need for limited monopolies to
promote innovation and commerce requiring substantial up-front
investments and risk. Jeremy Bentham (1839, p. 71) went beyond this
justification for intellectual property rights, providing a clear explication of
the differential fixed costs borne by innovators and imitators:

               [T]hat which one man has invented, all the world can imitate. Without the
               assistance of the laws, the inventor would almost always be driven out of the
               market by his rival, who finding himself, without any expense, in possession of a
               discovery which has cost the inventor much time and expense, would be able to
               deprive him of all his deserved advantages, by selling at a lower price.

John Stuart Mill (1862) concurred that patent monopolies were justified,
arguing that a temporary ‘exclusive privilege’ was preferable to general
governmental awards on the ground that it avoided ‘discretion’ and ensured
that the reward to the inventor was proportional to the ‘usefulness’ to
consumers of the invention.

Pigou (1924) elaborated the basic framework of modern welfare
economics, developing the concept of public goods as ‘instances in which
marginal private net product falls short of marginal net social product
because incidental services are performed to third parties from whom it is
technically difficult to exact payment’. This appropriability problem figured
directly in Pigou’s assessment of intellectual property:

                   The patent laws aim, in effect, at bringing marginal private net product and
                   marginal social net product more closely together. By offering the prospect of
                   reward for certain types of invention they do not, indeed, appreciably stimulate
                   inventive activity, which is for the most part, spontaneous, but they do direct it
                   into channels of general usefulness. (p. 151)

Clark (1927) reinforced this justification, noting that a system that did
not give inventors control of their inventions would result in a rivalry in
waiting for others rather than an effort to distance others in originating
improvements.

Building upon the growing understanding of oligopoly and the
economics of imperfect competition (see, for example, Robinson, 1933;
Plant, 1934a, 1934b) offered a more skeptical view of intellectual property
rights, questioning whether such rights were in fact needed to stimulate
inventive activity and investment in actual as opposed to idealized markets.
Plant argued that much invention is spontaneous and hence forthcoming
without the provision of patent protection. He contended further that firstmover
advantages, imperfections in markets and other factors provided
inventors and publishers sufficient rewards to create and market their works
even in the absence of intellectual property rights. Plant concluded that
patent protection would lead to an overinvestment in research and
development that could result in discoveries that fell within the patent
domain, wastefully diverting resources from more appropriate endeavors.

Arrow (1962) provides the seminal modern diagnosis of markets for
information. In addition to the appropriability problem described by Pigou,
Arrow recognized that the marginal cost of increasing the utilization of
information is zero.

                 [A]ny information obtained, say a new method of production, should, from the
                 welfare point of view, be available free of charge (apart from the costs of
                 transmitting information). This insures optimal utilization of the information but
                 of course provides no incentive for investment in research. In a free enterprise
                 economy, inventive activity is supported by using the invention to create property
                 rights; precisely to the extent that it is successful, there is an underutilization of
                 the information. (pp. 616-617)

Reflecting the Chicago tradition of law and economics, a number of
scholars questioned whether the ‘public goods’ attribute of information is
the most appropriate starting point for thinking about intellectual property.
Demsetz (1969, 1970), applying insights from the property rights literature
(Coase, 1960; Demsetz, 1967), argued that strong property rights for
intellectual creations should be provided, with the market available to ensure
efficient allocation of resources through Coasean bargaining. Hirshleifer
(1971) undercut the public goods justification for intellectual property
protection directly by pointing out that innovators may be able to appropriate
substantial return from the private utilization of proprietary information
without the need for property rights by speculating in markets on the basis of
their discoveries prior to such discoveries becoming public knowledge. This
mechanism creates strong incentives for the dissemination of such
information following the speculative investing of the innovator.

By the late 1960s, economists increasingly turned their attention to the
more narrowly focused question of how intellectual property rights should be
designed to best promote innovation. In what is now considered the classic
treatment, Nordhaus (1969) showed formally how the optimal duration of
patent protection balanced the incentives for innovation against the
deadweight loss of monopoly exploitation. Among his findings were that the
optimal patent life is longer the lower the price elasticity of demand for the
underlying product, the smaller the social benefit from the invention relative
to the research and development cost, and the more responsive the amount
of invention to the research and development cost. See generally Scherer
(1972); Scherer and Ross (1990, p. 625).

3. Current Research on the Economics of Innovation and Intellectual
Property Protection

By the early 1970s, three distinct models of intellectual property had
developed: (1) a market failure framework building upon traditional
neoclassical analysis; (2) a property rights framework reflecting the Chicago
tradition; and (3) a comparative institutional perspective premised upon a
contextual analysis of the opportunities to appropriate the value of
innovation in actual markets.

These models of intellectual property were static and focused upon the
setting of initial property entitlements. A large body of institutional and
historical work, however, emphasized the dynamism of innovation. A newer
body of literature has introduced dynamic aspects of the innovative process
directly into models of intellectual property. In addition, the modern
literature has, as a result of the particular features of telecommunications,
computer, and internet technologies, gone beyond the public goods rationale
to examine the implications of network externalities for intellectual property
protection. Moreover, scholars have recognized the role of market and social
institutions in augmenting and tailoring intellectual property rules (for
example, through contracting, joint ventures, and hybrid licensing
institutions). They have also looked at other incentive structures - such as
prizes, subsidies, and regulation - that provide alternatives and complements
to intellectual property rights. Some of this work develops comparative
institutional frameworks in order to assess the choice among institutions.

3.1 Social Value of Innovation
Robert Solow (1957) demonstrated that technological advancement and
increased human capital of the labor force accounted for most (between 80
and 90 percent) of the annual productivity increase in the US economy
between 1909 and 1949, with increases in the capital/labor ratio accounting
for the remainder. Denison (1985) extends and refines this analysis,
reaching similar results for the period 1929-1982: 68 percent of productivity
gain due to advances in scientific and technological knowledge, 34 percent
due to improved worker education, 22 percent due to greater realization of
scale economies, and 13 percent attributable to increased capital intensity;
these factors were offset by decreases in work hours (!25 percent),
government regulation (!4 percent), and other influences. It is now widely
recognized that technological advancement and enhanced human capital are
the principal engines of economic growth in the United States and other
industrialized countries (Scherer and Ross, 1990, pp. 613-614).

3.2 Historical, Industry and Institutional Studies
Joseph Schumpeter was among the first twentieth-century economists to
recognize the fundamental importance of technological change in modern
capitalist economies (Schumpeter, 1934, 1942, 1950; Nelson and Winter,
1982, pp. 275-281; Nelson, 1997). Schumpeter’s work emphasized three
principles: (1) innovations continually upset established relationships in
markets and organizational structures through a process of ‘creative
destruction’; (2) technological innovation provides the opportunity for
temporary monopoly profit, and this linkage explains the rapid economic
growth of the Western economies; and (3) large monopolistic firms are the
prime source of technological innovation because they are best able to bear
the high costs of technological innovation (Merges, 1988, p. 843). Although
economists who study innovation generally accept Schumpeter’s first two
principles, most empirical studies of the relationship between market
structure and research and development expenditures reject the linkage
between monopoly power and disproportionately large investments in
innovation (Scherer and Ross, 1990, pp. 614-660; Kamien and Schwartz,
1982, pp. 49-104). According to Scherer and Ross (1990, p. 660),

                 [S]chumpeter was right in asserting that perfect competition has no title to being
                  established as the model of dynamic efficiency. But his less cautious followers
                  were wrong when they implied that powerful monopolies and tightly knit cartels
                  had any stronger claim to that title. What is needed for rapid technical progress
                  is a subtle blend of competition and monopoly, with more emphasis in general on
                  the former than the latter, and with the role of monopolistic elements
                  diminishing when rich technological opportunities exist.

Economic historians have sought through case studies of particular
innovations and industries to understand better the linkage between research
and development and social welfare. These studies of the innovation process
find that inventions are highly interdependent: ‘Technologies ... undergo ...
a gradual, evolutionary development which is intimately bound up with the
course of their diffusion’ (David, 1985, p. 20). Secondary inventions -
including essential design improvements, refinements, and adaptations to a
variety of uses - are often as crucial to the generation of social benefits as the
initial discovery. See, for example, Nelson and Winter (1982), Taylor and
Silbertson (1973), Mak and Walton (1972), Rosenberg (1972) and Enos
(1958). Many studies emphasize the critical importance of linking
innovation with understanding of consumer needs and astute marketing.
Rosenberg (1976), for example, notes the dual emphasis that Thomas Edison
placed upon technical research and understanding the existing market for
illumination in bringing electrical lighting to market. Edison ‘deliberately
patterned many of his practices upon those of the gas industry. Edison’s
commercial genius resides in an extremely shrewd awareness of those
respects in which innovation called for continuity as well as discontinuity’
(Rosenberg, 1976, p. 75; see also Freeman, 1980, p. 124, finding innovators’
attention to the education of users, publicity, market forecasting and
understanding of user requirements to be key factors in distinguishing
between successful and unsuccessful innovations). Saxenian (1994)
describes how the process of diffusion depends not only upon downstream
considerations but also the degree of integration with component suppliers,
the sharing of information and know-how within and among companies,
industrial structure and a broad range of other upstream factors. These
studies emphasize the importance of diffusion in the realization of social
benefits from innovation.

Economic historians and industrial organization economists conducted a
series of empirical studies during the 1970s and 1980s which attempted in
part to assess the importance of intellectual property rights in spurring
technological advance (Mansfield, 1986; Schwartzman, 1976; Taylor and
Silbertson, 1973; compare von Hippel, 1988, pp. 46-53, reviewing other
studies). These studies found that patents were rarely the principal means of
appropriating returns in most industries (outside of pharmaceuticals and
chemicals). In many industries, first-mover advantages, including the
establishment of production and distribution facilities, rapid progress down a
learning curve and other factors have proven to be at least as important as
formal patent rights. Through a large survey of research and development
personnel across a wide range of industries in the United States, Levin et al.
(1987) found that intellectual property rights, in comparison with trade
secrecy, lead time, rapid movement down the learning curve and marketing
efforts, play a relatively modest role in enabling most firms (with the
exception of those in the pharmaceutical amd chemical industries) to
appropriate returns for their inventions. Similar results have been found in
Japan and Germany (Japan Institute of Intellectual Property, 1994;
Oppenlander, 1984). Taken together, these studies suggest a growing
consensus among economists that intellectual property rights offer a real, but
limited, incentive to innovate in some industrial sectors, the importance of
such rights vary significantly across industries and fields of innovation and
the linkage between intellectual property rights and social welfare
improvement is extraordinarily complex ( David, 1985, 1993; Machlup,
1968; Merges, 1995b, pp. 107-108; Scherer, 1980; Sirilli, 1987;
Stoneman, 1987, p. 115; Teece, 1986).

3.3 Enrichment, Refinement and Extension of the Economic Models
The early formal models of intellectual property rights assumed that
inventors conducted research in isolation on non-competing projects. As
such, the models focused on the optimal reward to induce particular
innovations by a single inventor. As the historical and institutional
literatures reflect, however, the actual environment for innovation is
substantially more complex. In particular, different innovators (and firms)
often compete to invent first, thus resulting in patent races. Economists
needed to develop richer, dynamic models in order to understand the
positive and normative implications of rivalrous competition. In addition,
the traditional model of protection focused narrowly upon one instrument -
patent duration - as the primary means for optimizing policy. Subsequent
studies have broadened the range of attributes of patent rights that can be
varied, including patent breadth and exclusivity. Furthermore, most of the
traditional models assumed that innovation resulted in an end product or
process that could not be improved upon, that is, one-shot inventions. As the
historical literature highlights, reflecting Sir Isaac Newton’s modest
aphorism ‘If I have seen further than other men, it is by standing on the
shoulders of giants’, most inventions are not only outputs but also inputs to
the creative process, with subsequent innovators building upon a growing
foundation. The modern literature has developed new models to study the
implications of cumulative innovation for the design of intellectual property
systems. The modern literature has also incorporated the insights of research
on network externalities into the analysis of intellectual property protection.

Rivalrous Competition Economists have sought to understand whether the
dynamics of rivalrous competition exacerbate or ameliorate the public goods
problem associated with innovation. Positing a model in which the cost of
innovation declines over time, Barzel (1968) showed that competition
among innovators for a patent will tend toward too rapid innovation, while
monopolist innovators who do not face potential entrants will tend to
innovate too slowly. Barzel’s work inspired an extensive literature on
rivalrous competition, which is ably summarized in Kamien and Schwartz
(1982); Reinganum (1983) and Tirole (1988).

Gilbert and Newberry (1982) extend Barzel’s basic model by showing
that monopolists may have an incentive to maintain their monopoly power
by patenting new technologies before potential competitors can gain a
foothold in the market (see also Cave, 1985; Gilbert and Newberry, 1984;
Salant, 1984. As Tirole (1988) notes, two factors operate: an efficiency effect
and a replacement effect. Because monopoly profits will be higher in any
given market than oligopoly profits, a monopolist’s incentive to remain a
monopolist (and hence pursue research and development intended to
maintain such position) tends to be greater than a potential entrant’s
incentive to become a duopolist (the efficiency effect). On the other hand, a
monopolist has less to gain from innovation since it already is earning high
profits. Innovation by the monopolist may only displace all or part of the
existing monopoly profits (the replacement effect). Hence, monopolists may
not have as much to gain as potential entrants from innovating. In the case
of drastic innovation, the replacement effect dominates because the entrant
becomes a monopolist (Reinganum, 1983). In the case of non-drastic
innovation, the efficiency effect tends to dominate and hence monopoly
power tends to persist (Fudenberg and Tirole, 1986).

The rivalrous competition literature, while quite diverse, has produced
two general views of patent races: one suggesting that they inefficiently
duplicate costs and the other suggesting that they encourage higher
aggregate investment (thereby offsetting to some extent the public goods
problem associated with information markets: Scotchmer, 1996b, 1998;
Dasgupta and Maskin, 1987). The inefficiency branch emphasizes the
duplication of research expenditures resulting from competition and
decentralized research programs (Tandon, 1983; Wright, 1985). Rivalrous
innovation produces an externality: by increasing the probability of
invention (and obtaining a patent) through research and development
efforts, a firm is thereby reducing the probability that its competitors will
succeed in making the same invention (Loury, 1979). This effect can result
in overinvestment in research and development. The efficiency branch
emphasizes the way in which patent races accelerate the rate of investment
and create pressure for continuing advancement (Fudenberg et al., 1983;
Grossman and Shapiro, 1987; Harris and Vickers, 1987).

Extension of the Nordhaus Model The classic Nordhaus model assumed that
only one policy instrument was available to encourage innovation through
the provision of intellectual property rights: the duration of protection.
Subsequent research has extended Nordhaus’s model, showing that the
optimal duration of patents is longer where enforcement is costly or
incomplete (Scherer, 1984) and where compulsory licensing at low rates is
possible (Tandon, 1982). Optimal duration of patents is shorter where
rivalry among firms raises the cost of innovation (McFetridge and
Rafiquzzaman, 1986) and where prospective competitors may waste
resources inventing around patents (Gallini; 1992 see also Chou and Shy,
1993).

Broader Range of Policy Instruments More recent work has focused upon
other policy instruments, including the standard for protection, the scope of
protection, the extent to which firms may collaborate (for example, joint
ventures, licensing) and the enforcement of intellectual property rights (that
is, property rules versus liability rules - compulsory licensing). Many of
these studies have also incorporated the insights of the rivalrous competition
literature and investigated the interaction of policy instruments. Due to the
wide range of factors and interactive effects, this literature has raised at least
as many questions as it has answered (see Priest, 1986). Nonetheless, this
research has refined understanding of key interactions and the complexity of
intellectual property policy.

Using a dynamic model of innovation in which firms decide what to
patent and whether to engage in a patent race, Scotchmer and Green (1990)
find that a weak novelty standard generally dominates a strong standard by
encouraging firms to disclose their discoveries. In addition, their model
shows that a first-to-file rule for determining priority results in earlier
disclosure of innovation than a first-to-invent rule, but it also creates
excessive incentives for firms to pursue a patent race. O’Donoghue (1996),
Scotchmer (1996a) and Luski and Wettstein (1995) extend the analysis of
the standard for protection.

Numerous scholars have examined the implications of varying the scope
(or breadth) of intellectual property protection. Gilbert and Shapiro (1990)
show that the optimal breadth of patents should be extremely narrow and the
optimal length infinite where wider breadth increases deadweight loss due to
consumers substituting out of the product class. Klemperer (1990) finds that
broad patents of short duration dominate long-lived, narrow patents where
substitution to alternative products (within the same product class) is the
main source of deadweight loss. Where potential competitors have a choice
between waiting for a patent to expire and inventing around the patent,
Gallini (1992) demonstrates that optimal patent scope should be broader
(and duration shorter) in order to discourage prospective competitors from
engaging in wasteful efforts to invent around patented inventions. Lerner
(1994a) presents empirical evidence showing the importance of patent scope.

Collaboration and sharing of innovation, either through ex ante
cooperative research arrangements or through ex post licensing agreements,
provide a direct means to internalize the spillover benefits of research and
development. Katz (1986), Grossman and Shapiro (1987), Scotchmer and
Green (1990), Ordover (1991), Jorde and Teece (1992) and Gandel and
Scotchmer (1993) discuss how collaborative research ventures address the
appropriability problem and promote diffusion of innovation. They also note
the anticompetitive risks of such ventures and propose antitrust tests for
balancing competing considerations, emphasizing that such collaboration
should be particularly encouraged with regards to basic research for which
the appropriability problem is most pronounced (see also Kaplow, 1984). A
number of studies examine the strategic licensing of innovation and how the
potential for licensing may affect the level of research and development
investment (see generally Tirole, 1988, pp. 410-414). Katz and Shapiro
(1985a) find that firms will be less inclined to license major innovations
(that is, innovations affording an effective monopoly) than minor
innovations where the innovator and the potential licensees are comparably
efficient because of the potential for the innovator to derive monopoly
profits. They also find that the possibility of licensing has an ambiguous
effect on research incentives. Whereas the potential for greater return
(through more efficient diffusion) made possible by licensing encourages
research, the returns to not innovating are also higher since losers of patent
races (and those who do not enter the race) have the potential to share in the
rewards so long as they have some bargaining power in negotiating a
license. Gallini and Winter (1985) describe two distinct motivations for
licensing: (1) to avoid redundant costs; and (2) to discourage a competitor
from pursuing research. These effects imply that licensing encourages
research when firms’ initial costs are relatively symmetric and discourages
research when costs are asymmetric. Rockett (1990) explains how patentees
may strategically license their innovations to ‘weaker’ competitors so as to
prolong their dominant position in an industry even after a patent has
expired.

As a means of addressing the anticompetitive effects of intellectual
property protection, various economists and legal scholars have examined
the use of alternative remedies for enforcing intellectual property rights. A
number of studies have suggested that compulsory licensing of patents might
be appropriate in particular circumstances - such as abuse of monopoly
power (Adelman, 1977; Scherer, 1977, 1980; Tandon, 1982; Kaplow, 1984;
Chang, 1995), and where network externalities exist (Menell, 1987) - but
enthusiasm for this policy approach has been dampened in the United States
by the determined opposition of industrial groups and the patent bar
(Scherer, 1980, p. 456).

Scotchmer (1996a, 1998) notes that the effectiveness of the patent system
could be improved by considering research and development costs of
particular innovations in determining validity, duration and breadth of
intellectual property protection, but recognizes that administrative and
institutional constraints - such as the costs of verifying firms’ data and the
accounting problem of allocating costs among products, projects and
overhead - effectively preclude patent authorities from considering such data
in practice.

Cumulative Innovation The classic Nordhaus model and much of the
subsequent literature has assumed that research and development yield a
single stand-alone invention which cannot be improved upon (and does not
contribute to other research endeavors). As historical and industry studies
have emphasized, however, relatively few innovations are pioneering. In
addition, most inventions build upon existing work. Moreover, pioneering
inventions often spawn entire new industries, with many improvements
upon and new applications of the technology. Recent research has
incorporated the cumulative nature of innovation into models of intellectual
property protection.

Scotchmer (1991, 1996a, 1996b, 1998) describes a fundamental tradeoff
arising as a result of cumulative innovation. In order to reward first
generation innovators sufficiently for inventions that may produce positive
spillovers by enabling second generation inventions (improvements, new
applications and accessories), first generation innovators should be able to
appropriate the value of second generation innovations. On the other hand,
providing even a share of the returns to second generation innovation to the
first generation innovator reduces the incentive for second generation
innovators to pursue their research. This tension is abated to the extent that
first generation innovators are best positioned to pursue second generation
innovation or where collaboration (for example, joint ventures) brings first
and second generation innovation within the same profit center. The
cumulative nature of innovation unquestionably strengthens the case for
allowing joint ventures, especially with respect to complementary products
(Scotchmer, 1996a; Katz and Ordover, 1989). In practice, however, it is rare
that one entity is best positioned to pursue all second generation projects.
Furthermore, second generation innovators are not known (and cannot be
knowable) before first generation research investments must be made. Yet,
once first generation research investments are made, they are sunk costs
which become irrelevant for bargaining over the division of profits from
multi-generation innovation. Green and Scotchmer (1995) and Scotchmer
(1996b) suggest that this problem can be addressed by expanding the
duration and scope of first generation patents or by denying patent
protection altogether to second generation innovation. These results,
however, depend critically upon strong assumptions relating to licensing of
innovation and the knowledge and rationality of innovators. As the licensing
literature notes, there are many strategic impediments to licensing of
innovation. In addition, much of the institutional literature casts doubt on
the degree to which innovators possess good information for assessing the
best diffusion path for their technologies and whether innovators behave
rationally in licensing to actual and potential competitors (Lemley, 1997b).

A number of scholars have extended the analysis of cumulative
innovation. Chang (1995) shows that patent scope should afford greater
breadth to inventions that have little value standing alone relative to the
value of improvements. Without such protection, there will be insufficient
incentive for innovators to pursue projects that will not yield substantial
returns until second and later generations of improvements and/or
applications have been developed. Matutes, Regibeau and Rockett (1996)
show that patent breadth, rather than duration, is the key variable for
promoting prompt disclosure of innovations. O’Donoghue, Scotchmer and
Thisse (1997) show that providing broad patent scope improves diffusion of
new products whereas patents of longer duration (and narrower breadth)
tend to reduce R&D costs (see also O’Donoghue, 1996).

Network Externalities In addition to the public goods problem, many
markets in which innovation plays an important role feature positive
network externalities. A network externality arises where one consumer’s
use of a product increases the value derived by other users of the product.
For example, adding an additional person to a common telephone network
not only enables the new user to contact others already on the network, but
also increases by one the number of people whom existing users of the
network may contact. Similar positive externalities arise indirectly, for
example, where software developers produce more application programs for
widely distributed operating systems. As a result of advances in
telecommunications, computer and internet technologies, network
externalities are an increasingly important feature of modern economies.

Katz and Shapiro (1985a) have demonstrated that a new entrant to a
market might adopt a noncompatible product standard even though their
adoption of a compatible standard would increase social welfare. This
behavior is driven by possible strategic advantages of not enhancing the
desirability of the rivals’ products to consumers valuing standardization.
Farrell and Saloner (1985) have shown a countervailing dynamic whereby
the developers of improved standards may be unable to attract consumers
because of the high switching costs to shift to the new standard. A large
literature has developed examining the network externality phenomenon
(see, for example, Farrell and Saloner, 1986, 1988, 1992; Gandel, 1994,
1995; Greenstein, 1993; Katz and Shapiro, 1986, 1992, 1994; Klemperer,
1987a, 1987b; Liebowitz and Margolis, 1995a, 1995b).

Drawing upon this literature, Menell (1987, 1989, 1998) shows that
intellectual property protection has important implications for the dynamics
of network externalities by affecting the extent to which competitors can
establish proprietary standards. In markets featuring strong network
externalities, Menell (1987) argues that the threshold for intellectual
property protection should be higher than in traditional market settings so as
to foster the adoption of standardized interfaces. In addition, compulsory
licensing may be justified in particular circumstances to enable the full
realization of network externalities. Intellectual property protection may also
be particularly important in network markets so as to provide adequate
rewards for firms to pursue research and development of improved
standards, that is, to overcome bandwagon effects discouraging the
development of improved standards (see also Farrell, 1989; Dam, 1995;
Lemley, 1996; Lemley and McGowan, 1998).

3.4 Alternative Instruments and Comparative Institutional Analysis
A broad range of theoretical and empirical studies have looked at
alternatives to traditional intellectual property protection as a means of
encouraging innovation. These studies examine alternatives in isolation and
comparatively (for example, Wright, 1983). All of these means have
advantages and drawbacks in particular contexts. As with comparative
institutional analysis more generally, no instrument or combination can
achieve perfection (Dwyer and Menell, 1997; Komesar, 1994). The goal is to
identify that configuration of instruments and institutions which is most
effective and responsive to the evolving nature of the problem. In addition,
scholars have begun to study broader issues relating to innovation such as
the role of regional economic structures and the way in which institutions
evolve to address market failures in the intellectual property field.

As noted above, joint ventures and licensing arrangements provide an
important means of sharing the costs of innovation and reducing the
economic inefficiency resulting from spillovers and patent races, although
they create conditions that may facilitate anticompetitive collusion among
competitors and other problems. Prizes and tournaments may also provide
strong incentives for research, but they also result in duplicative work
(Carlton and Perloff, 1991; Rosen, Nalebuff and Stiglitz, 1983; Wright,
1983).

Institutional economists have focused more generally upon corporate
strategies for appropriating returns from research and development.
Business economists have identified a broad array of managerial choices
affecting the rate and commercial success of innovation within a firm: trade
secrecy, intra-firm competition, the use of stock options and other incentivebased
compensation systems, suggestion boxes, marketing and licensing,
strategic partnering, among other techniques for appropriating a return to
investment. Using case studies and surveys, a growing literature in the
business strategy field assesses how these various options may be integrated
most effectively (see Teece, 1986; Levin et al., 1987; Storper, 1996; Storper
and Harrison, 1991).

Government subsidies can directly promote the development of particular
technologies. Governments fund significant research and development
through basic science grants (for example, medical research), subsidies to
higher education and other research institutions, procurement (especially
military, space and environmental), technology development programs (for
example, shale oil, nuclear power), tax credits (for example, solar energy)
and other funding programs. Such policies can misallocate resources,
however, because the government lacks adequate information to allocate,
manage and monitor the use of subsidies effectively. Moreover, the provision
of subsidies by the government generates rent-seeking by potential recipients
which wastes resources directly and distorts the allocation of the subsidies.

Governments also seek to spur innovation indirectly, especially in the
environmental and occupational health and safety fields, through regulatory
programs (Ashford and Heaton, 1983; Ashford et al., 1985; Banks and
Heaton, 1995; McGarity, 1994). Such programs often require industry to
meet particular regulatory requirements and develop and install improved
technologies (for example, lower polluting automobiles). Such ‘command
and control’ and ‘technology-forcing’ regulations have not proven to be
particularly effective because of the information costs and limitations of the
regulatory authorities and the political economy (rent-seeking) of regulatory
programs (Menell and Stewart, 1994; Sunstein, 1990; Stewart, 1981;
LaPierre, 1977). Incentive-based regulatory programs - such as effluent
taxes and marketable permit systems - are often more effective because they
use market forces to allocate resources to address pollution problems, but
they are limited by the availability of accurate and cost-effective monitoring
technology and the political impediments to the adoption of such policies
(Menell and Stewart, 1994).

An alternative line of inquiry explores the ways in which intellectual
property rights may undermine progress in science. Sociologists have
emphasized the role of social norms among scientists, especially in the
pursuit of basic research, in motivating discoveries. Merton (1973) identifies
four interrelated norms of the scientific research community - universalism
(emphasizing the objectivity of science), communism (viewing discoveries as
the result of collaboration and hence should be dedicated to the scientific
community), disinterestedness and organized skepticism - and non-economic
reward structures - publication, reputation, professional advancement,
esteem - which promote research and prompt disclosure. The biomedical
community, in particular, has developed strong norms promoting the
sharing of research to promote progress and serve humanity. Eisenberg
(1987, 1989) notes that these norms and structures may conflict with the
requirements, motivations and institutional structures of the intellectual
property system. Trade secret, for example, directly undermines the
disclosure of research. Even the patent system may delay disclosure until a
patent application can be made. In addition, the exclusivity of the
intellectual property system discourages sharing of discoveries and thereby
slows the process of cumulative innovation by limiting access to scientific
discoveries (Merges, 1996b). At a more general level, the increasing
emphasis upon profiting from more commericalizable research in the
universities has in part supplanted the more traditional drive to make
pathbreaking basic discoveries. Others scholars emphasize, however, that
intellectual property rewards are needed to diffuse academic and medical
discoveries beyond the research community (Rosenberg and Nelson, 1994).
Litman (1990) highlights the social and economic importance of a rich
public domain to the creation of literary and artistic works.

Heller (1997) suggests that economic efficiency may be undermined by
excessive division of property rights and the resulting bargaining
breakdowns that can result from such fragmentation. Eisenberg and Heller
(1997) examine the problems that are beginning to emerge in biomedical
research as a result of a proliferation of intellectual property rights relating
to the human genome. Lemley (1997a) addresses the increasingly prevalent
problem of overlapping copyrights on the Internet.

Comparative Regional Studies In one of the most penetrating modern
analyses of the determinants of innovation, Saxenian (1994) provides a
detailed, multidisciplinary account of the factors driving the remarkable
success of Silicon Valley as a robust and resilient engine of technological
progress. Unlike most economic models of industrial organization
economists which assume the basic preconditions of innovation (for
example, rationality, information, contracting, competition), Saxenian pays
close attention to the actual institutional forces motivating and sustaining
rapid technological progress. She finds that Silicon Valley has thrived as a
result of an extraordinary confluence of factors: a unique culture of
collaboration and sharing of know-how both within and across firms; a high
mobility of labor; competitive rivalry among many dynamic competitors; low
barriers to entry; a high density of complementary specialized enterprises;
the development of effective trade associations and consortia; creative use of
strategic partnering, cross-licensing, second-sourcing and joint ventures; a
responsive, knowledgeable and competitive venture-capital financing
network that is integrated into the technology community; close research
university-industry relationships; a legal culture emphasizing informal,
practical, flexible and less litigious solutions (see Suchman and Cahill,
1996); a management style emphasizing teamwork, openness, participation
and autonomy of decentralized engineering teams; and the use of stock
options to attract and motivate employees and reward innovation. These
factors have fostered sustained rapid technological progress and relatively
stable economic growth in Silicon Valley, defying the predictions of product
cycle theory (positing that regions follow a pattern of innovation, growth,
maturation and scale production and ultimate decline as production shifts to
other, lower cost regions). See also R. Nelson (1993) and Lindvall (1992).

Institutional Innovation Another promising line of research has examined
the process by which new institutions form to address the limitations and
gaps of existing intellectual property regimes. Besen and Kirby (1989) and
Besen, Kirby and Salop (1992) examine the development of copyright
collective organizations and the manner in which they reduce transaction
costs in the licensing of intellectual property. Merges (1996a) surveys the
broad array of institutions that have developed to address the appropriability
problems and transaction costs plaguing intellectual property markets.
Applying the insights of the new institutionalism literature (Cooter, 1994;
Ellickson, 1991; Greif, 1989, 1993,; North, 1990; Ostrom, 1990; Powell
and DiMaggio, 1991; Williamson, 1985) to case studies of performing
rights societies, patent pools and the Hollywood Script Registry, Merges
shows that strong property rules promote the innovation of hybrid
institutions that can most efficiently address the transaction cost and
valuation problems inherent in the reallocation of intellectual property
rights. He argues that the advantages of institutional innovation militate
against legislatively or judicially determined ‘liability’ regimes such as
compulsory licensing and provide a justification for more permissive
antitrust treatment of collective rights organizations in many circumstances.

4. Normative Analysis of Specific Modes of Intellectual Property
Protection

4.1 Patent
Standard accounts of the patent system have emphasized several features of
the law that promote economic efficiency: legal protection for invention
encourages investment; disclosure requirements enhance technological
knowledge and spur further research; incentives to develop and
commercialize research rapidly diffuse advancements (Machlup, 1958,
1968; Penrose, 1951). These accounts emphasize a reward theory, seeing the
appropriability of economic returns from investment as the driving force
behind technological innovation (Oddi, 1996, pp. 275-277; Grady and
Alexander, 1992, pp. 310-313).

More recently, a number of scholars have developed more sophisticated
theories of how the patent system can best promote social welfare. See
generally Kitch (1998), Oddi (1996) and Dam (1994). Reflecting concern
about the social costs of monopoly power, Scherer (1980, pp. 443-450) has
refined the standard reward theory to emphasize that the patent system
should focus upon rewarding only those inventions that would not be
forthcoming (or would be substantially delayed) without patent protection. In
this view, patent protection would only be available for those inventions that
are induced by the patent system itself (see also Oddi, 1996, pp. 275-281).

Building on Barzel’s (1968) model of rivalrous competition, Kitch
(1977) argues that the patent system in essence provides the first to claim an
invention with a ‘prospect’ or ‘development rights’, authorizing the patent
holder to ‘mine’ the claim exclusively. Kitch defends this function of the
patent system as promoting efficient (non-rivalrous) exploitation of
innovation opportunities: technological advancement will proceed more
desirably in such a regime because the first prospector will have ‘breathing
room’ to develop the claim without fear that rivals will preempt or steal the
claim and the inventor will be able to coordinate the development process.
The opportunity to license the technology enables the inventor to contract
with entities that may be better able to develop the claim. The prospect
theory thus turns importantly upon a smoothly functioning technology
licensing market and the capacity, foresight and rationality of prospectors to
coordinate the development and diffusion of the technology.

Emphasizing the other branch of the rivalrous competition literature
(which sees social benefits to rivalry) and building upon the work of
institutional scholars finding that technological development was retarded in
industries where broad patents were granted, Merges and Nelson (1990)
argue that the patent system should foster a ‘race to invent’. Drawing on a
wide range of empirical evidence and theoretical models of bounded
rationality, they see vibrant competition as a more positive force in spurring
invention, innovation and diffusion of technology than coordinated
development by a single prospector. Because of significant transaction costs
in technology licensing markets, cognitive limitations of innovators and the
unknown nature of technological ‘prospects’, Merges and Nelson argue that
the patent system should promote competition in second generation
inventions and improvements by limiting the breadth of patents (compare
Lemley, 1997b). One of the benefits of rivalrous competition is that multiple
inventors working on the same problem often produce different valuable
inventions.

More recently, Grady and Alexander (1992) have offered a ‘rent
dissipation’ model of the patent system. Like Kitch, Grady and Alexander
focus upon the social loss from duplicative investment in innovation. In their
terms, the patent system should (and does) strive to maximize the benefits
that society derives from innovation less the development costs. The patent
monopoly represents a rent that competing inventors will pursue until much
of the net social benefit is dissipated through duplicative investment. Such
dissipation occurs at three stages: in the race to obtain the initial patent; in
the competition to develop those improvements ‘signalled’ by the patent;
and in investments in secrecy to prevent rivals from obtaining spillovers
from research efforts. In this model, the case for patentability declines as the
value of the invention increases so as to reduce the rent dissipation that
might occur at the pre-invention stage. Grady and Alexander would provide
broad patent scope to those inventions that ‘signal’ a large potential for
improvement. Their implications, therefore, directly contradict the ‘race to
invent’ model. Oddi (1996), Martin (1992) and Merges (1992) question the
normative and positive basis of this theory.

A large literature has also developed applying utilitarian theories of
intellectual property to the analysis of particular doctrines of patent law.
Kitch (1966) analyzes the non-obviousness standard. Merges (1988) uses
empirical and theoretical research on the economics of innovation to critique
an emerging trend in the case law using secondary factors such as
commercial success in assessing whether an invention constitutes nonobvious
innovation. Eisenberg (1989) offers a refined analysis of how the
experimental use exception of patent law could better promote progress of
science without undermining primary incentives. Merges (1994a) examines
the bargaining dynamics created by the exclusivity of patent rights. Dam
(1994) and Schlicher (1995) apply economic analysis to the broad spectrum
of patent doctrines.

4.2 Copyright
As with patent law, standard accounts of copyright law see the provision of
exclusive rights to reproduce original expression as an essential means to
promote literary and artistic creativity and the diffusion of works. Beginning
with Plant (1934b), however, a number of scholars have questioned the need
for copyright protection on utilitarian grounds. Plant argued that being first
in the market, the desire of authors to have their works and ideas widely
distributed and other factors, provide adequate rewards for the production of
literary works without the need for copyright protection. Hurt and
Schuchman (1966) and Breyer (1970) have since refined, elaborated and
narrowed this argument, developing a rudimentary form of comparative
institutional analysis. Tyerman (1971) presents a careful critique of this
argument to which Breyer (1972) replies.

More recently, economists have developed formal models of the
economics of copying in order to assess the effects of copyright protection.
Johnson (1985) and Novos and Waldman (1984) have shown that
limitations on copying enhance consumer welfare and address the
appropriability problem under plausible market conditions. Liebowitz (1985)
points out, however, that these studies do not take account of publishers’
ability to appropriate returns indirectly through discriminatory pricing of
originals, such as charging higher fees to libraries and other institutional
purchasers (see also Ordover and Willig, 1978). This effect reduces,
although does not eliminate, the appropriability problem for some classes of
works such as journals. The advent of very low cost copying and distribution
technologies such as the Internet, however, reduces the efficacy of this
appropriability means.

At a more doctrinal level, legal and economic scholars have applied the
insights of economic theory to the analysis of copyright doctrine. Gordon
(1982) explains how the fair use doctrine serves as a effective means for
permitting uncompensated use of copyrighted material where the
transactions costs of licensing or other means of exchange would prevent a
transfer through the market (see also Fisher, 1988). Kreiss (1995) analyzes
the extent to which copyright doctrines foster the accessibility of works,
which bears upon the promotion of learning and knowledge. He argues for a
liberal construction of the fair use doctrine and caution in awarding
injunctive relief. Merges (1992) assesses the fair use doctrine as applied to
parodies within an economic framework. Dreyfuss (1987) examines the
work for hire doctrine of copyright law. Menell (1987, 1989, 1998) analyzes
the efficacy and limitations of copyright protection in addressing the market
failure associated with the creation and diffusion of computer software.
Lunney (1996), elaborating Plant’s (1934b) principal observation, argues for
a narrow scope of protection for copyrighted works (limited to exact or nearexact
duplication) on the ground that broader protection would inefficiently
promote investment in copyrightable endeavors at the expense of other
activities in the economy. Lemley (1997b) suggests that copyright doctrines
may discourage the creation of improved works. Economic analysis has also
been used to analyze the efficiency with which copyright law achieves nonutilitarian
goals, such as redistribution and the protection of moral rights.
Numerous studies have analyzed the droit de suite, a continuing property
right artists maintain in works of art which has been adopted in a minority
of nations (Karp and Perloff, 1993; Hansmann and Santilli, 1997; Perloff ,
1998).

4.3 Trademark
A trademark is a legally protectable name, word, symbol, design, or
combination which designates the manufacturer of a product or service. The
primary justifications for trademark law are ‘to facilitate and enhance
consumer decisions’ and ‘to create incentives for firms to produce products
of desirable qualities even when these are not observable before purchase’
(Economides, 1988, p. 526, 1998; McClure, 1979, 1996). A principal benefit
of trademark protection is to lower consumer search costs (Carter, 1990;
Landes and Posner, 1987; McCarthy, 1944, §2.1). Trademark law
encourages manufacturers to invest in the development of brand names and
distinctive packaging by eliminating the risk that competitors will free-ride
upon such investments. The availability of reliable signals of product source
and quality fosters informed consumer decisionmaking.

Some early industrial organization economists were critical of
advertising (and hence marking) on the ground that they ‘unnaturally’
stimulated demand, thereby fostering and perpetuating oligopoly through
‘artificial’ product differentiation (Robinson, 1933, p. 89; Rosen, 1978;
McClure, 1979, 1996; summarizing arguments). This view has been largely
supplanted by theoretical arguments and empirical evidence supporting the
view that advertising and trademarks are an efficient means of providing
information in the marketplace (Stigler, 1961; Hirshleifer, 1973; Nelson,
1974; Nagle, 1981; Milgrom and Roberts, 1986; Landes and Posner, 1987;
P’ng and Reitman, 1995; McClure, 1996).

Landes and Posner (1987) describe the manner in which various
doctrines of trademark law promote economic efficiency (see also Folsom
and Teply, 1980; Swann, 1980; Mims, 1984; Burgender, 1985). Much of
Landes and Posner’s analysis assumes that the set of marks available to a
market entrant is practically infinite and hence there is no loss to the public
when a mark is taken. Carter (1990) questions this assumption, noting that
particular or a limited range of words or symbols are cheaper or more
effective at branding some types of products and services than others. He
analyzes the implications of a less than perfectly elastic supply of marks for
some markets.

Brown (1948) notes that trademarks (and advertising more generally)
create value by affecting the satisfaction consumers derive from acquisition
and consumption of the good. Commentators have increasingly recognized
such other effects of trademarks. Dreyfuss (1990) and Kozinski (1993) note
that many trademarks have developed a stand-alone value - consumers value
displaying a particular trademark, such as a team or corporate logo, wholly
apart from any product or service that might be manufactured by the
trademark owner. Kozinski argues on utilitarian grounds that the law should
protect some prestige marks - such as Rolex - to foster the image advertising
that generates such value. In order to maximize this value, some have
argued that courts should protect an inherently distinctive trademark or
trade dress from its inception in order to encourage the creation of valuable
marks. Some also argue that trademarks should be recognized more directly
as property rights (and not merely as a form of tort law) and be protectable
against dilution (and not merely trading by competitors) (Schecter, 1927;
Callmann, 1947; Pattishall, 1976, 1984; Kitch, 1990; Swann and Davis,
1994). Carter (1990, 1993) and Port (1993, 1994) criticize these emerging
trends in the law. Port, in particular, argues that trademarks should not be
seen as property, but rather grounded in and limited to a narrow body of tort
law.

4.4 Trade Secret
Innovators may seek to protect their intellectual work through the law of
trade secrets, which draws from common law property, contract and tort
doctrines and state statutes (see generally Merges et al., 1997, ch. 2). Trade
secret protection directly addresses the appropriability problem by limiting
contracting parties’ use and dissemination of proprietary information,
thereby enhancing incentives to produce valuable information (Friedman,
Landes and Posner, 1991). It is particularly important in encouraging the
production of information that is not patentable, too expensive to patent, or
more valuable if kept secret than protected through the patent system
(Friedman, 1998). Trade secret law also serves to reduce the cost of keeping
information proprietary by affording formal legal protection to those who
make reasonable efforts to maintain trade secrecy. The subject matter of
trade secrets includes almost any valuable information that is not generally
known or available, for which the right holder is protected against
misappropriation (acquisition by improper means or unauthorized
disclosure) so long as he or she makes reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy
of the information. Hence trade secrets can entail significant costs to
maintain secrecy and negotiate, specify and monitor contractual
relationships (Cheung, 1982). In addition, unlike patent law, the holder of a
trade secret is not protected against independent discovery or reverse
engineering. Moreover, the rightholder may have little effective recourse if a
trade secret becomes widely known or if a user of the information acquired it
without knowledge of its having been misappropriated.

Focusing upon the broader question of the comparative desirability of
trade secrets within the broader regime of intellectual property protection,
Cheung (1982) notes that trade secret protection inhibits the spread and use
of ideas and causes the dissipation of economic rents. Nonetheless, trade
secrets are an essential element of any economic system built upon freedom
of contract and private property and they may be particularly effective (and
more so than patent law) in promoting continuing research by employees or
teams. Friedman, Landes and Posner (1991) suggest that trade secret law
may be less prone to spurring over-rapid innovation (that is, excessive
efforts to make a discovery, especially where the cost of an invention falls
rapidly over time) than patent law because the negative consequences of
coming in second place in such a ‘race’ are smaller. In a patent race, the
‘winner’ obtains an exclusive right to practice the invention, whereas in a
trade secret regime, all independent discoverers are free to practice an
invention.

Much of the economic literature on trade secrets addresses the optimal
level of expenditures to maintain secrecy, that is, the question of reasonable
efforts. Kitch (1980) argues that all such ‘fencing costs’ are inefficient and
would require only such expenses as are necessary to provide evidence of the
existence of a trade secret, that is, a notice or marking function (see also
Reichman, 1994). Friedman, Landes and Posner (1991) make the related
point that trade secret protection should be available when it is cheaper than
the physical precautions that would be necessary to protect a particular piece
of information. Another commentator argues that the optimal level of
precaution against disclosure is at the point where the marginal cost of such
measures equals the marginal expected loss in the event of misappropriation
(Note, 1992). Friedman, Landes and Posner (1991) also defend the
permissibility of reverse engineering under trade secret law as efficient.
Scheppele (1988), however, argues that cases involving trade secrets are
better explained in terms of fairness principles than in the efficiency terms
of law and economics.

Lerner (1994a) presents empirical evidence finding trade secrecy to be a
particularly important form of intellectual property protection for many
businesses and one of the most frequently litigated intellectual property
claims (see also Levin et al., 1987). Saxenian (1994) finds that a permissive
attitude toward the enforcement of potential trade secret rights has
encouraged rapid diffusion and meteoric economic growth in Silicon Valley.

4.5 Misappropriation, Idea Protection, Right of Publicity and Sui Generis
Forms of Protection
In addition to federal intellectual property protections (patent, copyright and
trademark) that have developed in most industrialized and emerging
economies, a range of state protections for intellectual work has evolved as
well. As is discussed below, these protections are limited to some extent by
federal supremacy and preemption. Nonetheless, they remain an important
part of the broader intellectual property regime and have been responsive to
new appropriability problems and gaps of federal systems. Such protections
emanate from state legislative enactments as well as the development of
common law doctrines in the courts. In addition, federal governments have
augmented the troika of intellectual property law with more specialized
forms of protection.

Baird (1983) and Raskind (1991) describe how state misappropriation
doctrine, a form of tort law, has flourished and can be seen as reflecting
competitive norms (see also Reichman, 1994). Lichtman (1997) argues on
the basis of economic criteria that states should be able to craft limited forms
of idea protection regimes that complement the federal regime. He argues
that such protections will not undermine federal patent protection so long as
such statutes limit innovators’ reward to their development costs.

Over the past two decades, state courts have developed and expanded the
right of publicity, which protects celebrities from the having their image,
voice, or other distinctive characteristic used by others. Grady (1994) argues
that the right of publicity can be understood as a response to the problem of
rent dissipation: free use of a celebrity’s attributes would lead to overuse,
reducing the value to society. Using a congestion externality rationale,
Posner (1992, p.43) argues that the right of publicity should be perpetual in
duration: ‘[W]hatever information value a celebrity’s endorsement to
consumers would be lost if every advertiser can use the celebrity’s name and
picture’. Madow (1993) and Kozinski (1993, p. 975) argue on the basis of
economic incentive and other considerations that the right of publicity has
been expanded too far.

Merges (1996a) discusses the broad range of private intellectual property
institutions that have evolved, including copyright collectives such as the
American Soceity of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and
Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) which license most musical works (see
also Besen and Kirby, 1989; Besen, Kirby and Salop, 1992; Kobayashi and
Yu, 1995; Koboyashi, 1998, patent pools and the Hollywood Script Registry.

Samuelson (1984), Stern (1986), Menell (1987, 1994), Litman (1989)
and Samuelson et al. (1994) have argued that intellectual property
legislation cannot easily keep pace with technological change. Stern (1986)
proposes the creation of a sui generis regime for the protection of computer
software as well as a new administrative structure whereby a federal agency
would have limited authority to develop new forms of intellectual property to
address the needs created by new technologies. Kastenmeier and Remington
(1985) and Samuelson (1985) discuss the creation of sui generis intellectual
property protection for the design of semiconductor chips. Using an
economic framework, Menell (1987) analyzes how intellectual property
could be tailored to address the market failures in computer software
markets. Samuelson et al. (1994) suggest a new framework for protecting
the intellectual work embodied in computer programs, upon which Ginsburg
(1994), Goldstein (1994), Gordon (1994), Kitagawa (1994), Menell (1994)
and Nelson (1994) comment. Reichman (1983a, 1983b, 1989/90, 1994)
analyzes the need for a hybrid form of protection for industrial designs (see
also Gordon, 1994; Karjala 1994; Lehmann, 1994; Mackaay, 1994 and
Merges, 1994b). Reichman and Samuelson (1997) analyze the desirability of
a sui generis for the protection of databases (see also Ginsburg, 1992).

4.6 Channeling Among Modes of Protection
Given the broad array of modes of intellectual property protection, each with
differing standards and terms of protection, the overall efficacy of the
intellectual protection regime depends signficantly upon the ability of the
system to properly channel innovation among the various modes. Four sets
of doctrines - election, functionality, preemption and misuse - have
developed to ensure that the overall system functions coherently.

The disclosure requirement of patent law in essence requires innovators
to elect between patent protection and trade secret protection. As Goldstein
(1974) points out, however, such election is really only after-the-fact since
inventors cannot perfectly predict whether their research will result in
patentable inventions at the outset of their research efforts. Friedman,
Landes and Posner (1991) argue that inventors use trade secret protection
where innovations are either too trivial to be patented or where the costs of
patenting outweigh the benefits.

Functionality doctrines serve to ensure that the exacting standards of
patent law are not undermined by the bestowing of effective protection for
the functional features of a work through other, less exacting, forms of
intellectual property protection. The idea-expression dichotomy excludes
functional features from protection under copyright law (Landes and Posner,
1989). Goldstein (1989, §2.3.1.1) suggests that courts engage in a rough
balancing of the dangers of overprotecting and underprotecting a particular
work. Karjala and Menell (1995) explain how this principle efficiently
channels protection between copyright and patent law generally and with
regard to computer software. The functionality doctrine of trademark law
limits the scope of trademark and trade dress protection to non-functional
attributes so as to prevent a manufacturer from obtaining protection for
functional features without meeting the requirements and being subject to
the limitations of the patent law (Davis, 1996; Landes and Posner, 1987;
Mims, 1984).

Preemption doctrines limit the authority of state legislatures and courts to
develop protections within the fields occupied by federal intellectual
property protection. Such doctrines not only override conflicting bodies of
law, but also, through a negative implication, preempt the enactment or
development of state doctrines to protect works that were left unprotected by
federal law. Within the United States, federal patent, copyright and
trademark law have broad preemptive domain, substantially limiting the
authority of state legislatures and common law courts to develop local
intellectual property regimes (Heald, 1991). Many scholars have criticized
the breadth of such preemption, noting the lack of any empirical basis for
preempting state protections for fields left unprotected by federal patent law
(Wiley, 1989; Easterbrook, 1990; Reichman, 1994; Lichtman, 1997).
Notwithstanding the broad sweep of some preemption cases, the courts have
allowed the development of a number of state intellectual property
protections, including various misappropriation doctrines (including trade
secret law), the right of publicity and limited forms of idea protection (Baird,
1983; Friedman, Landes and Posner, 1991; Heald, 1991; Raskind, 1991;
Reichman, 1994; Lichtman, 1997).

Preemption doctrines also govern the relationship between state contract
law and federal intellectual property law. Rice (1992) and Lemley (1995a,
1995b) argue that manufacturers of goods embodying intellectual property
should not be permitted to extend the duration or scope of their rights
through licensing provisions, particularly those specified in ‘shrinkwrap’
contracts. O’Rourke (1995, 1997) argues that copyright law should not
preempt the enforcement of contractual terms that may alter parties’ rights
with regard to copyrighted content (see also Hardy, 1995).

A fourth set of doctrines balances the policies of the intellectual property
system, which grant limited monopolies in order to promote innovation,
with the policies of the antitrust laws, which promote competition through
the restriction of monopoly power. The intellectual property system would
provide little spur to innovation if intellectual property owners were not
permitted to exercise some market power. While the intellectual property
laws create an implied limited exception to the antitrust laws, unrestrained
freedom to exploit such monopolies could impose substantial indirect costs
on society (over and above the deadweight loss attributable to monopoly
pricing), including the possibility that a patent holder could discourage
further research in the field covered by the patent or seek to cartelize an
industry through licensing agreements that foster collusion. A number of
doctrines, including the patent misuse doctrine, have developed to address
the difficulties at the intellectual property-antitrust intersection. The
harmonization of the policies of these two bodies of law, however, is
theoretically and practically quite complex. See generally Baxter (1966),
Bowman (1973), Kaplow (1984), Teece (1986) and Lemley (1990) on patent
misuse; Hanna (1994) on copyright misuse; Merges (1996a) on patent pools,
and Merges et al. (1997, ch. 8).

5. Positive Analysis of Intellectual Property Protection

There has emerged in the literature two branches of positive analysis
relating to intellectual property. As in many areas of private law, law and
economics scholars reflecting the Chicago tradition have argued that
intellectual property doctrine can be explained as a means for promoting
efficient resource allocation. Kitch (1966, 1977) and Grady and Alexander
(1992) have argued that patent law as applied by the courts has evolved
toward an efficient set of doctrines relating to the standards for and scope of
protection. Oddi (1996), Merges (1992) and Martin (1992) point out
numerous inconsistencies with these claims. Landes and Posner (1987,
1989) have argued that the main contours of trademark and copyright
promote economic efficiency. Grady (1994) makes similar claims for the
right of publicity.

A second tradition, building upon the insights of public choice theory,
has examined the political process producing intellectual property legislation
and the extent to which such legislation reflects the outcome of interest
group politics. In the view of one observer intimately familiar with the
legislative process (Olson, 1989, p. 111),

Congress is generally not in the business of satisfying abstract concerns about
‘good copyright policy’. Rather, Congress is an intensely political body, loath to
impose one-sided losses on legitimate interest groups. Since ‘good copyright
policy’ would often require precisely such one-sided losses, copyright reforms
may languish for decades before being enacted, or may simply be abandoned.
Litman (1989) describes the importance of interest group politics in
affecting the way in which copyright law has evolved to accommodate and
respond to technological change (see also Sterk, 1996, pp. 1244-1246).
Menell (1994, pp. 2651-2652) highlights a perplexing dilemma in
accommodating new technologies within the intellectual property system:

              [T]he opportunity for comprehensive reform is most propitious before interest
              groups form around a new technology. Unfortunately, policymakers usually do
              not have sufficient understanding of the path of such technology and the
              implications for an appropriate intellectual property regime during this nascent
              stage of development. Policymakers thus are left in the awkward position of
              either creating a regime before they adequately understand the problem or
              waiting until the contours of the problem emerge, at which point economic
              interests have vested and reform, if it is possible at all, is severely contrained.

Olson’s view that intellectual property legislation cannot move forward
without consensus may be giving way to the view that those who stand to
gain concentrated benefits from copyright legislation (content owners) may
prevail in legislative fora (national and international) over those who stand
to bear diffuse costs (consumers). Merges (1995b) notes a general shift in
the societal baseline toward a presumption of protection (compare Lemley,
1997c; Karjala, 1987). He also observes that intellectual property rights are
increasingly seen as an off-budget form of subsidies and hence they create
strong incentives for interested parties to engage in rent-seeking. Karjala
(1995), Lavigne (1996) and Sterk (1996) highlight the pressure to expand
the term of copyright protection, notwithstanding any showing that such
extension promotes creation of intellectual works. Commentators have
criticized efforts by content owners to expand protections for their works on
the Internet (Samuelson, 1996a). While the basic model of public choice is
inadequate as a full explanation of the political process (see, for example,
North, 1990, noting the vagaries of processes by which property rights are
defined), it has important insights for understanding the evolution of
intellectual property law.

B. Non-Utilitarian Theories of Intellectual Property

Non-utilitarian theories play an important role in justifying intellectual
property. This is particularly true with regard to the protection of literary
and artistic expression and publicity. The European nations have grounded
intellectual property protection for such intellectual effort within nonutilitarian
theories of rights. This difference in philosophical perspective is
reflected in part in the ways in which intellectual property systems are
designated. Whereas protection for literary and artistic expression in the
United States comes within the ‘copyright’ law - the title of which
emphasizes limits on the public’s right to make copies - the analogous
bodies of law in Europe are labelled ‘author’s rights’: droit d’auteur in
France, Urheberrecht in Germany and derecho de autor in Spain. Even in
the United States, however, there is a respected view to justify intellectual
property law and to develop intellectual property doctrines on a broader base
than the utilitarian model (Kaplan, 1967, p. 67; Treece, 1968; Hughes,
1988; Gordon, 1989, 1992a, 1992b, 1993; Yen, 1990; Netanel, 1993, 1996).

Over the past decade, a broad range of scholars has applied existing and
novel philosophical frameworks to the analysis of intellectual property
protection. Many of these scholars have drawn upon multiple philosophical
strands in constructing their analyses. The discussion below disentangles the
various strands so as to provide a comprehensive survey of the expanding
foundation upon which intellectual property has been justified and critiqued.

6. Natural Rights/Labor Theory

John Locke offered a strong natural rights justification for private property
which remains a central pillar of property theory today (Locke, 1698; Dwyer
and Menell, 1997). Beginning with the proposition that all humans possess
property in their own ‘person’, Locke argued that

             [t]he ‘labour’ of his body and the ‘work’ of his hands, we may say, are properly
             his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the stat that Nature hath provided and
             left it in, he hath mixed his labor with it and joined to it something tht is his own
             and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common
             state Nature placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it that
             excludes the common right of other men. For this ‘labour’ being the
             unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what
             that is once joined to, at least where there is enough and as good left in common
             for others.

For elaboration of Locke’s general theory, see Simmons (1992) and Waldron
(1979).

Immanuel Kant (1798, pp. 229-230) spoke of the ‘natural obligation’ to
respect the author’s ownership of his works. Sterk (1996), Hughes (1988)
and Yen (1990) present thorough accounts of the role of natural rights in
American copyright law. Oddi (1996) discusses the application of natural
law theories to patent protection. Hughes (1988) and Port (1994) explore the
application of Lockean theory to trademark protection. Becker (1993)
explores various moral bases for deserving to own intellectual property. In a
series of articles, Gordon (1989, 1992a, 1992b, 1993) applies the Lockean
perspective, with particular consideration of the Lockean ‘proviso’ (‘enough
and as good left in common for others’), in arguing against the view that
intellectual property rights should be absolute (see Waldron, 1993). Denicola
(1981) and Ginsburg (1990) argue that copyright law should be interpreted
broadly to allow protection for compilation of facts, even if they do entail
original expression in their organization, so as to protect the ‘sweat of the
brow’ inherent in creating such works (see also Ginsburg, 1992). Harris
(1996) discusses the application of Lockean theory to ownership of body
parts and products (for example, cell lines). Hettinger (1989) critiques the
Lockean labor theory as applied to intellectual property, arguing that
creators should be limited in their property interest to the value they add by
applying their labor to things removed from the commons and not to the
total value of the resulting product (see also Nozick, 1984, pp. 175-182).

7. Unjust Enrichment

Gordon (1992a, 1992b) argues that the central problem of intellectual
property law is to compensate creators of works who bestow benefits on
those who follow, up to some socially justifiable point. In this analysis, the
basic structure of intellectual property law is closely akin to the law of
restitution, which seeks to determine when someone who bestows
unbargained-for benefits deserves compensation.

8. Personhood Theory

The personhood justification for property derives from Kant’s Philosophy of
Law and Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and has been elaborated in modern
legal discourse in the work of Radin (1982, 1993). ‘The premise underlying
the personhood perspective is that to achieve proper development - to be a
person - an individual needs some control over resources in the external
environment. The necessary assurances of control take the form of property
rights’ (Radin, 1982). The personhood justification for property emphasizes
the extent to which property is personal as opposed to fungible: the
justification is strongest where an object or idea is closely intertwined with
an individual’s personal identity and weakest where the ‘thing’ is valued by
the individual at its market worth. For general critique of this theory, see
Schnably (1993), Simmons (1992).

Netanel (1993) traces the rich heritage of Continental copyright law and
its moral rights tradition to the personality theory developed by Kant and
Hegel, pointing out nuances distinguishing the various strains within the
theory (see also Palmer, 1990, pp. 835-849). For example, Kant viewed
literary work as part of the author’s person and hence is not alienable.
Hegel, by contrast, distinguished between mental ability as an inalienable
part of the self, but not the act of expression. Netanel presents a multifaceted
argument for alienability restrictions upon copyright interests. The
broader implications of the personhood justification for intellectual property
have been explored by a number of scholars: Hughes (1988) (suggesting
various strains of the personhood theory in American copyright law); Port
(1994) (disputing Hughes’ use of personhood theory to support anti-dilution
actions in trademark); Cherensky (1993) (with regard to works for hire);
Hughes (1998) (right of publicity); Solomon (1987) (right of publicity).
Personhood theory has been particularly central to the emerging debate,
brought to the fore by advances in biotechnology, over property rights in
body parts, cell lines and other body products (Munzer, 1994); Radin, 1987).

9. Libertarian Theories

Palmer (1989, 1990) constructs a libertarian argument against intellectual
property rights by critiquing the dominant philosophical perspectives used to
justify intellectual property protection. Coming from a different intellectual
tradition, but reaching a similar conclusion, Barlow (1994) argues that
intellectual property rights threaten to undermine free exchange of ideas
over the Internet and enable corporate interests to exercise substantial
control over cultural and political expression. Netanel (1996, pp. 365-385)
suggests that these concerns can be addressed better through reworking
rather than discarding copyright law. More generally, Waldron (1993)
points out that autonomy as an ideal cuts both for and against intellectual
property rights. Authors may claim that the integrity of their self-expression
requires that they control the use and adapation of their works. Social
commentators may argue, however, that they are denied the ability to
express themselves if they cannot parody the works of others.
The issue of personal autonomy also arises with regard to control of body
parts and cell lines. Informed consent may address this concern, although
the meaning of informed consent may be more subtle in the context of
modern medical research, where scientists may be able to decode a patient’s
genetic structure and produce valuable byproducts (Harris, 1996; Lavoie,
1989). In addition, as above, liberty interests do not decisively cut in just one
direction.

10. Distributive Justice

Theories of distributive justice seek to distribute society’s resources on the
basis of just principles. Many philosophers endorse utilitarian theories of
distributive justice (Mill, 1862; Singer, 1975; Hare, 1978). Such theories
often reflect Lockean and other philosophical perspectives as well (Sterk,
1996, pp. 1234-1239). The process of determining such principles is the
focus of considerable debate among political philosophers. Rawls (1971,
1993), for example, offers an ‘ideal contractarian’ theory of distributive
shares in which a just allocation of benefits and burdens of social life is
determined by what rational persons would choose from behind a ‘veil of
ignorance’, which prevents them from knowing what abilities, desires,
parentage, or social stratum they would occupy. Firth (1952) rejects
contractarian approaches and instead argues that justification derives from a
suitably defined Ideal Observer. Nozick (1984) approaches such questions
from a non-interventionist standpoint, arguing that the State should play no
role in distributing or redistributing property come by properly apart from
respecting the voluntary transfers of property owners.

Considerations of distributive justice have recently been applied in
justifying intellectual property. Rakowski (1991, pp. 86-87), for example,
develops a rich theory of justice with applications to the distribution of the
rewards of invention. Landes (1992) invokes Rawls’s ‘veil of ignorance’ to
argue that authors as a group would favor limited ‘productive uses’ of
unpublished materials within the scope of fair use. Similarly, Brennan
(1993) uses Rawls’s contractualism to suggest a just set of rules to govern
the fair copying of expression in works of criticism. Sterk (1996, pp. 1234-
1239) argues that copyright law lacks coherence by reference to the leading
competing theories of distributive justice.

The most concrete manifestation of distributive justice principles in the
intellectual property field are recent international accords with regard to the
protection, ownership and use of resources. Advances in biotechnology have
spurred the prospecting of biological resources throughout the world, which
has increasingly brought the traditional principles and values of the
intellectual property system (emphasizing scientific and technological
advance through limited, exclusive monopolies) in conflict with larger social
justice, sovereignty and access concerns (Sedjo, 1992; Kadidal, 1993;
Goldman, 1994; Carroll, 1995; Urbanski, 1995; Adair, 1997). The
International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources of the United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization provides specifically for ‘farmer’s
rights’. It recognizes farmers as innovators entitled to intellectual integrity
and access to the germplasm and technologies they have developed
collectively over many generations. Such recognition serves to protect the
interests of those who may lack the knowledge or resources to perfect their
intellectual property rights against the exercise of formal rights by better
organized agricultural interests that develop patent portfolios. The
Convention on Biological Diversity provides that parties cooperate to ensure
that intellectual property rights ‘are supportive of and do not run counter to’
the objectives of the convention, the conservation and sustainable use of
biodiversity and the equitable sharing of benefits. The Convention also
requires signatory nations to ‘respect, preserve and maintain knowledge,
innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities’.

In addition, biotechnology has also led to the development of valuable
resources derived from the human body. Distributive justice arguments have
been used in assessing moral claims to cell lines and other products of the
human body (Harris, 1992, 1996; Rakowski, 1991, pp. 167-195).

11. Democratic Theories

Copyright law promotes political expression by encouraging expression, but
it also potentially inhibits dissemination of works by prohibiting, subject to
some limitations, the copying of expression. In its early history, copyright
was used by the English Crown to regulate the press (and censor seditious
expression) through bestowing selective royal grants of privilege (Goldstein,
1970; Kaplan, 1967). Although copyright no longer functions directly to
censor political expression, it nonetheless has the potential to inhibit the free
flow of information. Goldstein (1970) discusses how the principles of
copyright law - including the idea-expression dichotomy, the fair use
doctrine and a misuse doctrine - harmonize this body of law with
constitutional protections of freedom of speech and the press (see also
Nimmer, 1970; Denicola, 1979; Patterson, 1987). Coombe (1991) offers a
post-modernist critique of intellectual property law, arguing that the
expanding domain of intellectual property protection limits the ability of
individuals to express themselves. Netanel (1996) suggests that copyright
plays an increasingly important role in modern democratic societies because
of the ease with which expression can be disseminated through the use of
digital technology. He argues that exisiting theories of intellectual property
rights may undermine larger democratic principles and articulates a new
model for the interpretation of copyright in the digital age which seeks to
promote a democratic civil society.

12. Radical/Socialist Theories

A radical critique of some basic assumptions underlying intellectual property
- most notably, the romantic concepts of ‘the author’ and ‘the inventor’ - has
developed in recent years, building upon the work of deconstructists in the
field of literary criticism. These scholars suggest that the concept of
authorship and inventorship is so malleable, contingent and ‘socially
constructed’ that we should be wary about identifying a creative work too
closely with a particular person or entity (Aoki, 1993-1994, 1996a, 1996b;
Boyle, 1988, 1992, 1996; Jaszi, 1991; Lange, 1992; Woodmansee and Jaszi,
1994). According to this view, all creations are the product of communal
forces to some extent. Dividing the stream of intellectual discourse into
discrete units, each owned by and closely associated with a particular author
or inventor, is therefore an incoherent exercise subject more to the political
force of asserted authors’ or inventors’ groups than to recognition of
inherent claims of natural right, personhood, or other justifications. Lemley
(1997c) and Samuelson (1996a) assess and critique the main claims of the
deconstructionist view.

13. Ecological Theories

As understanding of the connections between technology, industrial
development and the environment has deepened, environmentalists have
begun to view intellectual property within the context of broader
philosophical theories relating humans to the environment. Traditional
reformist theories - which are anthropocentric in nature and draw heavily
upon utilitarian, liberal and other traditional philosophical frameworks - see
technology as both a source of environmental problems and a means for
reducing environmental impacts of human activities. These theories
generally call for the internalization of the adverse impacts of technology
and the use of subsidies and other mechanisms (such as intellectual
property) to spur the development of new technologies that reduce
environmental impacts (see generally Banks and Heaton, 1995; Menell and
Stewart, (1994).

Environmentalists have developed naturalist ethics over the past 50 years
which challenge key assumptions of traditional philosophical perspectives
(Nash, 1989). Most significantly, these theories are built upon nonanthropocentric
premises. Leopold (1949) developed an ecological ethic,
which seeks to ‘preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic
community’. Leopold argued that the complexity of the biosphere counsels
caution in any activities that might disrupt natural processes (see generally
Devall, 1980). Singer (1975) called for recognition of moral considerateness
of all sentient beings. A broad range of environmental activists, Green Party
politicians and social commentators have used these perspectives to attack
technological advance as a social goal generally (see, for example,
Commoner, 1971). Of particular significance in recent years, many
ecologists and animal rights activists have questioned the encouragement of
biotechnology, both in terms of the risks of adverse environmental
consequences from the release of novel genetic organisms and the morality
of re-engineering living organisms.

C. Conclusions

14. Synthesis and Future Directions

Intellectual property is rarely justified on one theory, although patents’
grounding in utilitarianism comes the closest. Consensus about
philosophical perspective, however, has not produced consensus about what
that perspective prescribes. Economic theorists have produced multiple
plausible models for which empirical distillation will remain elusive and
unlikely to be of much general predictive value due to the heterogeniety of
inventive activity, the diversity of research environments, the complexity of
technological diffusion, the richness and changing nature of real world
institutions and the obvious measurement problems in conducting empirical
research of this type. The comparative advantages of various configurations
of intellectual property rights, antitrust standards, government subsidies,
regulation and other encouragements for innovation are difficult to assess.
The operation of these various alternatives turn on key assumptions - such as
the extent to which firms will aggressively innovate without direct
competitive pressure and the impediments to licensing, joint ventures and
other transactional mechanisms (ex ante and ex post) - for which empirical
evidence is limited in general and with regard to heterogenous contexts in
which these issues arise. Nonetheless, the work of the past decade has
refined some of the debates significantly and provided valuable, although
sobering, evidence on others. Of perhaps greatest importance, recent work
has shown that the holy grail of a perfectly calibrated incentive system is
unattainable. Especially when the insights of public choice theory are
factored into the analysis - in particular, the difficulty of enacting and
implementing public-regarding intellectual property policies in the presence
of rent-seeking by interested parties - the field should focus more on setting
the main parameters and providing incentives for the evolution of new
privately and socially constructed institutions to develop effective
governance structures.

When the theoretical domain is expanded beyond utilitarian analysis, as
it is in some patent contexts and most other areas of intellectual property,
scholars have looked principally for parallel implications and conflict among
competing philosophical justifications as a means of assessing justifications
for particular intellectual property rules and institutions. This pragmatic
approach (Kaplan, 1967) rarely produces intellectual tidiness, but is an
essential aspect of justifying governance regimes in diverse social, political
and economic cultures. Many factors are at work, which leads to rules that
channel protection among modes of protection and varies the thresholds for
and nature of protection within particular modes. As technology advances,
the system continues to evolve, sometimes by new legislation, more often by
the stretching and bending of existing rules. New technology
commercialized in the past two decades, most notably the advent and
diffusion of digital technology and new advances in the life sciences, portend
deepening interest in the intellectual property system and scrutiny,
reconsideration and reconceptualization of the theories justifying intellectual
property. Even within the existing theories of intellectual property, these
technologies pose significant analytical challenges as a result of the ways in
which they change key factors on which existing institutional rules and
structures are based - for example, the nature of personal and liberty
interests of creators and users, network dimensions, transaction costs. As
intellectual property and technology have gained importance over the past
two decades, the philosophical debates have melded with broader social and
political discourse bearing upon the very foundation of modern society. We
can expect that intellectual property will continue to press these frontiers as
the information age progresses.

 


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