10/12: Speaker Series - Mark Lemley - The Patent Crisis and How the Courts Can Solve It

October 12, 2009 12:45 pm to 2:00 pm

Widely recognized as a preeminent scholar of intellectual property law, Mark A. Lemley (BA '88) is an accomplished litigator—having litigated cases before the US Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, and federal circuit courts—as well as a prolific writer with more than 100 published articles and six books. He has testified numerous times before Congress, the California legislature, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Antitrust Modernization Commission on patent, trade secret, antitrust, and constitutional law matters. He is also a partner and founder in the firm Durie Tangri LLP. His contributions to legal scholarship focus on how the economics and technology of the Internet affect patent law, copyright law, and trademark law; and at Stanford he currently acts as the director of the Program in Law, Science & Technology, and the director of the LLM Program in Law, Science & Technology.

Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 2004, he was a professor of law at the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and at the University of Texas School of Law. He also served as counsel at Fish & Richardson and Brown & Bain as well as clerked for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. CIS and the Federalist Society sponsor Mark Lemley's talk on his new book The Patent Crisis and How the Courts Can Solve It.

Patent law is crucial to encourage technological innovation. But as the patent system currently stands, diverse industries from pharmaceuticals to software to semiconductors are all governed by the same rules even though they innovate very differently. The result is a crisis in the patent system, where patents calibrated to the needs of prescription drugs wreak havoc on information technologies and vice versa. According to Dan L. Burk and Mark A. Lemley in The Patent Crisis and How the Courts Can Solve It, courts should use the tools the patent system already gives them to treat patents in different industries differently. Industry tailoring is the only way to provide an appropriate level of incentive for each industry.

Burk and Lemley illustrate the barriers to innovation created by the catch-all standards in the current system. Legal tools already present in the patent statute, they contend, offer a solution—courts can tailor patent law, through interpretations and applications, to suit the needs of various types of businesses. The Patent Crisis and How the Courts Can Solve It will be essential reading for those seeking to understand the nexus of economics, business, and law in the twenty-first century.

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