Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Federalist Society Intellectual Property Conference

The Federalist Society is organizing a conference on Intellectual Property:  Back to Basics in Washington D.C. on May 17:

10:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
Panel One: By Any Other Name: Intellectual Property as "Property"

Is intellectual property really "property?" The property label has become controversial in modern scholarship and policy debates. Some contend that copyright and patent law should be about innovation policy, not property rights. They view patents and copyrights as a necessary evil provided to encourage progress in the arts and sciences. In this view, there is no inherent justification for the rights of intellectual property owners; they are wholly contingent on the social good they produce. Others view the concept of property far more expansively, and they see intellectual property as a key component of individual liberty, justified by ownership of one's own person and labor. These opposing views lead to very different understandings of intellectual property.

This panel will focus on the philosophical and practical implications of intellectual property as property. Is intellectual property best treated as cultural and innovation policy or as a private property right? Are intellectual property rights morally justified by the owner's right to life and liberty? Does intellectual property only impose on other liberties, or does it in fact support and defend them? How can property doctrines and policies strike a balance between owners' rights and the public interest? This panel will present several differing perspectives on these questions, examining how they apply to patents, copyrights, trademarks, and other forms of intellectual property.

12:00 noon - 1:45 p.m.
Panel Two: Modern Intellectual Property Rights: Unprecedented Growth or Unprecedented Erosion?

Are intellectual property rights stronger than ever or are they under unprecedented attack? Conventional wisdom is of two minds. Intellectual property owners contend that intellectual property rights are threatened like never before. On the other hand, critics believe that intellectual property rights have grown to an unprecedented and unhealthy degree. Most agree that intellectual property rights should encompass a balance between private rights and the public interest, but there are starkly different views as to whether the balance is tipping the right way. For example, some object to the use of antitrust law to overcome intellectual property rights held by large corporations, while others say it has not gone far enough. Many assert that governments should use compulsory licensing of patents and other intellectual property rights to correct perceived market failures. Some open source and free software advocates contend that governments should favor open source software over market-based models of software development. How should policymakers balance intellectual property rights with market considerations? With the public good? Are we striking the right balance or are we failing?

Confirmed Participants to Date Include:

Prof. Wendy Gordon, Boston University School of Law
Prof. F. Scott Keiff, Associate Professor, Washington University School of Law and National Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Prof. Adam Mossoff, Michigan State University School of Law
Prof. Mark Schultz, Southern Illinois University School of Law
Ms. Gigi B. Sohn, President and Co-Founder, Public Knowledge

Ben Barros

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