May 2005 Report on New Academic Research

AcademicEach month I post a note discussing new research from the academic side of patent law.  The May 2005 edition includes three great articles from a range of topics:

1. Donald S. Chisum, Reforming Patent Law Reform, 4 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 336 (2005).  In a short and accessible article, Professor Chisum discusses the nuts and bolts behind patent law reform and asks “reformers” to take a high road.  Specifically, the article proposes six “principles” that any proposed patent legislation should follow: (i) simplicity; (ii) zero-based budgeting; (iii) cost sensitivity; (iv) completeness and generality; (v) international compatibility; and (vi) clarity on effective dates.  As demonstrated by Chisum, the proposed legislation fails each of these principles.  Download the article. (Also, check out footnote 31). (Thanks to Karl Maersch for the tip).

2. Douglas G. Lichtman, Substitutes for the Doctrine of Equivalents: A Response to Meurer and Nard, U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 244 (May 2005). In a preemptive strike, Professor Lichtman has taken issue with the forthcoming patent claim scope article by Professors Michael Meurer and Craig Nard. Lichtman argues that the doctrine of equivalents (DOE) is still useful in today’s patent world.  Making three major points, Lichtman argues that the DOE (i) ensures patent viability despite language and foresight limitations; (ii) discourages wasteful efforts to “perfect” claim language; and (iii) allows the patent system to make decisions based on todays knowledge rather than living in the false construct that time stopped at the date of the invention.  Remembering the article’s title, Lichtman argues that the DOE has no equivalent substitutes. Meurer Nard Article, Lichtman Article. (The Meurer Nard article will be published in the Georgetown L.J. later this year).

3. Mark H. Webbink, A New Paradigm for Intellectual Property Rights in Software, 2005 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0012 (2005). Webbink is deputy GC at Red Hat.  In this critique, Webbink presents a dissenting voice against a recent article by Microsoft’s GC Bradford Smith (71 U. Chi. L. Rev. 241 (2004)).  In that article, Smith, and his co-author Susan Mann (also of Microsoft) argued that growth in the software industry is a direct result of implementation of strong intellectual property regimes for software.  Webbink makes the case that many other developments were much more important to the explosion in the software industry in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  He lists the development of the personal computer as one such cause for the explosion in off-the-shelf software.  Webbink also gives Microsoft as a test-study — showing that Microsoft did not escalate its patent filings until 1994, “long after the company had become well established.” Read the Article.