Intellectual Property

Intellectual property (IP) rights help creators limit who uses their work without giving value in return. This protection encourages innovation in thought and expression. Academics featured on this site research topics such as open source licensing, digital rights management, patent reform, IP and technical standards, trademarks, and trade secrets.

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My latest article, “Future Conduct and the Limits of Class-Action Settlements,” has just been published in the North Carolina Law Review. I’ve been working on this one for a long time—two and a half years—and have been struggling with the ideas for even longer—nearly five. I’ve kept it under wraps until now because I wanted to be sure I had the details right.
There is a pivotal patent case in the U.S. District Court that involves standard-essential patents (SEPs) and fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND/RAND) licensing terms. The importance of SEPs, FRAND, and RAND in the patent system is explained.
What is the impact of changes in copyright protection on investment in new firms? Research by TNIT member Josh Lerner and colleagues analyzes how contrasting court rulings in Europe and the United States have influenced the extent of venture capitalists’ interest in the cloud computing industries of the two regions.
In November, at Santa Clara University, we held a conference entitled ”Solutions to the Software Patent Problem” that assumed, without debating, that software patents were a problem. With that premise, conference participants could focus their attention on thoughtful and creative ways to redress the problems created by software patents. At the conference, we heard a lot of different proposals (nearly two dozen) from experts in the field. Here’s a recap of some of my personal favorites.
Software patents play a huge–and controversial–role in our economy. In a recent post, I explained some of the problems that software innovations pose to the patent system. This post extends that discussion by exploring two structural hurdles to addressing those problems: (1) the challenge of defining “software,” and (2) which regulatory institution(s) can implement any fixes. In the near future, I will conclude this three-part series of posts by exploring specific ideas to fix software patents.
The U.S. patent system largely treats all innovations equally, but innovation often works quite differently in different industries. In particular, the software industry differs from other major innovative industries in several key ways, and those differences can create significant friction for the patent system. This post is the first of a three-part series recapping a conversation we had in November at Santa Clara University entitled “Solutions to the Software Patent Problem.”
Professor Ed Felten, Princeton University, explores the perceptions of rights and responsibilities online by examining copyright statements on Facebook – both from the social media’s terms of use and Facebook’s users.
In the wake of legal threats against users who tweeted or retweeted a link to a BBC report of child abuse that turned out to be wrong, Jonathan Zittrain examines the legal and social impact of using litigation to moderate social network communications.
Professor Joshua Gans, University of Toronto, explores the business of publishers imposing download restrictions on e-devices and questions who gains what with this practice: lock customers in to the hardware’s app store? prevent piracy?
The Future of Design Protection conference explored design protection systems and rights for high technology products, including graphical user interfaces. Co-hosted by the Center for Intellectual Property Research at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre at the University of Oxford, the two-day event was global in scope.
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Fact Sheets

Software Patents

A patent provides an exclusive legal right to an invention for a limited period of time, in exchange for public disclosure of that innovation. As with other property rights, patents may be sold, transferred, or licensed for a third party’s use.


Lofi Girl Disappeared from YouTube and Reignited Debate Over Bogus Copyright Claims

“We ended up with this system because in the 1990s, when the contours of the internet and copyright are still coming into view, this is the compromise that representatives of the copyright industries and the internet industries worked out.” — James Grimmelmann, Professor of Law, Cornell University

James Grimmelmann
July 16, 2022

Featured Article

Privacy as Commons: Case Evaluation Through the Governing Knowledge Commons Framework

“Privacy” is best defined as a matter of the appropriate flow of information. A concept known as the “general knowledge commons” helps analyze privacy problems, although the concept was developed for creative content rather than privacy analysis.

By: Katherine Strandburg, Brett M. Frischmann