A special issue of the International Journal of Technology Management and International Journal of Intellectual Property Management
This joint special issue addresses the theme of whether intellectual property (IP) acts as a help or as a hindrance to innovation and the commercialisation of new knowledge. This is a timely topic and one that elicits much debate, since it is likely to have far-reaching implications.
Developments in the knowledge economy are being driven by innovation, and in some ways are being facilitated, and in some other ways hindered, by intellectual property rights (IPRs). The incentive thesis of intellectual property is that IP exists in market economies to correct a market failure – the likelihood that, if unchecked, imitators will cancel out the market-success incentive that motivates innovation and technology advancement.
However, recently, IP has come to be seen as something of a minefield, beset with controversial issues. Examples include the ethical and legal ramifications of patenting life forms and human tissue in bioscience; IPRs to drugs developed by commercial companies using publicly-funded human genetic databases; licences issued by universities and public research institutes that permit business partners to delete or withhold information from the public domain; university scientific research being delayed, deterred or abandoned due to the presence of IP; the reluctance of university researchers and technology transfer offices to share materials and knowledge with others, unless this is accompanied by legal agreements; increasing legal action between universities and researchers over IP and royalties; the positive and negative impact on research universities of legislation such as the Bayh-Dole Act; the trivial nature and dubious business value of many patents; the deliberate use of 'patent thickets' to deter competition, etc. Whereas previously IPRs were viewed as being good for innovation and as beneficial for society generally, there is now more critical questioning of the IP system.
The aims of this special issue are to provide a forum for the presentation of these and related issues in IP, to describe the implications for innovation and the commercialisation of new knowledge, and to provide policy guidelines for helping to resolve some of the contentious issues.
For this special issue, we seek contributions from economic, legal, management and policy perspectives that address these and other issues on IP, innovation and technology commercialisation. Papers may be theoretical, empirical or descriptive in nature, and all contributions will be peer reviewed.
Suggested thematic headings indicating the types of topics that this special issue will endeavour to address include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Does the patent system (in the EU, USA, etc.) foster innovation as it is supposed to do?
- The case for reform of the patent system and how this could be implemented
- The patent regime in specific countries (e.g. its history, characteristics, enforcement, prospects, etc.) and the international harmonisation of IP laws
- How industry might better protect its intellectual property
- How research institutions commercialise or spin out intellectual assets How universities license IP
- How firms exploit IP to obtain venture capital funding, attract strategic alliance partners, increase their legitimacy, gain market share, etc.
- The role of IP in firms' business models or strategic planning
- Patent opposition procedures that challenge the validity of claims in issued patents and how these affect technology transfer
- Impediments to innovation, such as 'patent thickets', the 'tragedy of the anti-commons', defensive patenting or the risk of litigation, and the prospect that these lead to fewer products in the market. How might these obstacles be overcome?
- Business value versus technological value of patents (e.g. recent patent applications, such as one involving emoticons on mobile phones, vis-a-vis patents on technological breakthroughs, such as the light bulb or the semiconductor)
- IP issues on database information (e.g. in bioinformatics) and the need to maximise public benefit
- Different types of innovation and the relevance of IPR to these types. For example, is IPR relevant to informal innovation or does formal, 'protected' innovation crowd it out?
- Different types of IPR (classical ones, such as copyright, patents and trademarks; and new, specific ones, such as the sui generis database right) and their scope. For example, what are the implications for innovation of the wider range of 'novelty' now covered by patents and the accompanying increase in patent applications?
Deadline for submission of papers: 1 December, 2007