Law & Economics of IP Licensing at Chicago

Law & Economics Conference: The Licensing of Intellectual Property

Date: Friday, June 18, 2010 – 8:45am – Saturday, June 19, 2010 – 12:15pm
Location: The University of Chicago Law School
Organized by Richard A. Epstein, Omri Ben-Shahar, and Jonathan Masur

Intellectual property in all forms is one of the great drivers of innovation in any modern technological economy. The creation of patentable material however is only the first stage of a complex process of commercialization. That commercialization in turn depends on an effective system of intellectual property licenses to exploit the potential gains from trade between original inventors and others who work in this area. The process of commercialization, however is far from easy and this conference explores many of the roadblocks that stand in its path. Some of these are doctrinal, as intellectual law contains a number of rules that limit the ability of licensors and licensees to fashion their own agreements. The first sale (or exhaustion rule) is one prominent advantage. A second stems from the inability of some licensors and licensees to enjoin the use of patented technology by persons who have not taken licenses from original inventor. Other difficulties come in deciding the optimal terms of licenses, and in organizing the multiple transactions needed to make these licenses work in a variety of consumer and producer markets, both domestically and overseas. The conference will also address the settings in which it may be appropriate to use commercial licenses. And it will have several empirical papers that explore the trends in licensing in various industries. Licensing is the life blood of commerce in innovation. It is imperative that we understand how the processes now work and how they may be improved.