SOPA, PROTECT IP will stifle creativity and diminish free speech, say WUSTL experts

Wikipedia and other sites plan to go dark to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act under consideration in Congress. Three law professors from Washington University in St. Louis, Kevin Collins, Gregory Magarian and Neil Richards, signed a letter to Congress in opposition to the PROTECT IP Act. Read Magarian and Richards’ current comments on SOPA and PROTECT IP.

Economists say copyright and patent laws are killing innovation; hurting economy

Patent and copyright law are stifling innovation and threatening the global economy according to two economists at Washington University in St. Louis in a new book, Against Intellectual Monopoly. Professors Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine call for abolishing the current patent and copyright system in order to unleash innovations necessary to reverse the current recession and rescue the economy. The professors discuss their stand against intellectual property protections in a video and news release linked here.

Supreme Court ruling on patents is step in right direction, economists contend

The Supreme Court’s decision April 30 to raise the bar for patents on products combining elements of pre-existing inventions is a landmark in the battle against so-called “nuisance patents” and just one more sign that the tide is turning against overly restrictive and costly intellectual property right protections, suggests a pair of economists from Washington University in St. Louis.

Apple’s bid to end music piracy protection may signal end to copyright system

Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple Computers, has issued a challenge to the music industry, saying Apple would support an open online music marketplace if the four-largest music companies would drop the use of digital-rights management software — the technology that prevents the copying of music sold online. Jobs’ challenge, which some consider shocking, is just the latest brick to fall in the inevitable collapse of a legal wall that since 1999 has been obstructing technological progress and preventing people from enjoying more and better music at a lower price, suggests Michele Boldrin, Ph.D., an economist at Washington University in St. Louis who studies the hidden costs of intellectual property rights protections.

Universities face a challenge when hawking innovations

Hundreds of technology-transfer offices have popped up on university campuses over the past 20 years to enable universities to facilitate the commercialization of innovations and discoveries pioneered by their professors. Licensing patents for the inventions is a commercial opportunity for universities, which hope to make money selling the intellectual property and to see faculty research make a tangible impact in the marketplace. While all the inventions might be equally genius, they aren’t all valued equally. The question for technology-transfer offices is: What will sell? A professor at the Olin School of Business found that the ease of selling intellectual property doesn’t necessarily depend on whether the innovation has received patent protection. More…

Combating biopiracy: Use existing IP systems

Concerns over biopiracy have fueled urgent calls for a new system of legal protection for indigenous biological materials and knowledge. Detractors of the current patent systems say that the knowledge of traditional cultures and communities does not readily fit into the industrialized world’s definition of intellectual property (IT); critics argue that existing laws basically promote the interests of the industrialized world. However, intellectual property and technology law expert Charles McManis, J.D., disagrees. More…

A Comparative Institutional Analysis of Intellectual Property

Biotech innovations pop up every day. From medicines developed by large companies to ingenious solutions worked out by individuals in university labs, new technologies are poised to enter the marketplace. The question is, are patents helping or hurting this process? “Patents are essential to bring biotechnology innovations from everyone — not just well-funded corporations — to the people,” says F. Scott Kieff, J.D., associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “Without patents, the biotech marketplace in basic science takes on the nature of something like an old boys’ club in which personal attributes such as fame, prestige, and even gender and race, govern what exchanges take place; and the addition of patents gives many more people a way to play in that game.”

Intellectual Property Law and the Protection of Traditional Knowledge

Growing biopiracy concerns have fueled urgent calls for a new system of legal protection for traditional knowledge. Detractors of the current patent systems say that the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities does not readily fit into the existing rules of the industrialized world and that these rules basically promote the interests of the industrialized world. However, Charles McManis, J.D., IP and technology law expert and the Thomas and Karole Green Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, argues that “at least in the short run, existing intellectual property regimes offer the most realistic avenue for securing effective legal protection for traditional knowledge holders.”
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