Monday, December 27, 2010
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Nancy Gallini (UBC - Econ) addresses Private Agreements for Coordinating Patent Rights: The Case of Patent Pools.
ABSTRACT: Inventors and users of technology often enter into cooperative agreements for sharing their intellectual property in order to implement a standard or to avoid costly infringement litigation. Over the past two decades, U.S. antitrust authorities have viewed pooling arrangements that integrate complementary, valid and essential patents to have â€œpro-competitive benefitsâ€ in reducing prices, transactions costs, and the incidence of costly infringement suits. Since patent pools are cooperative agreements, they also have the potential of suppressing competition if, for example, they harbor weak or invalid patents, dampen incentives to conduct research on innovations that compete with the pooled patents, foreclose competition from downstream product or upstream innovation markets, or raise prices on goods that compete with the pooled patents. In synthesizing the ideas advanced in the economic literature, this paper explores whether these antitrust concerns apply to pools with complementary patents. Special attention is given to the U.S. Department of Justice-Federal Trade Commission Guidelines for the Licensing of Intellectual Property (1995) and its application to recent patent pool cases.