Fitting Marrakesh into a Consequentialist Copyright Framework

Fitting Marrakesh into a Consequentialist Copyright Framework

The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities entered into force on September 30, 2016. The treaty aims to alleviate what has been described as the “book famine,” and has been lauded as a significant achievement in advancing the rights of and promoting equal opportunity for the visually disabled. Contracting states are required to implement copyright limitations and exceptions to facilitate access to copyrighted material for the global print-disabled community. This note will argue that, notwithstanding the treaty’s strong rights-based underpinnings, the treaty aligns comfortably with U.S. consequentialist copyright justifications. This note will also demonstrate the limitations of other copyright justificatory theories while discussing their incompatibility with the treaty’s philosophy.

Tomato, Tamatie? Revising the Doctrine of Foreign Equivalents in American Trademark Law

Tomato, Tamatie? Revising the Doctrine of Foreign Equivalents in American Trademark Law

The growing specter of globalization impacts industries from communication to transportation, resulting in an unparalleled proliferation of cultural diffusion unmatched throughout history. Naturally, this cultural diffusion has familiarized American consumers with foreign brands and foreign languages despite the obvious English dominance domestically, resulting in a trademark quagmire. Under the current American doctrine of foreign equivalents, trademark examiners and courts translate non-English words into English to determine whether they meet the general United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) registration requirements. However, by treating English and non-English words alike, the pool of source-identifying marks is unnecessarily restricted. This note argues that a clear rule-like form that relaxes restrictions of registering descriptive foreign language marks through offering ‘descriptive’ foreign-language a presumption of eligibility for protection would mitigate inconsistent application of the doctrine. Such a rule would also limit costs on consumers and producers that are caused by restricting the range of available marks and inhibiting creative and communicative branding.

Through the Looking Glass: Photography and the Idea/Expression Dichotomy

Through the Looking Glass: Photography and the Idea/Expression Dichotomy

Copyright law has always expressed an idea/expression dichotomy, where copyright protection extends not to an idea of a work but only to work’s expression of that idea. Alas, this distinction walks a fine line with regard to non-textual and visual works. In particular, courts are prone to inconsistent outcomes and a violation of the fundamental precepts of copyright law because courts often succumb to shortcomings in grasping aesthetic theories of originality, realism, and ideas idiosyncratic to visual works. However, this dilemma may be solved within the existing framework of copyright law. This note argues that the solution should start by focusing less on visual works’ subject matter, but rather elements of the work, such as the originality and realism of the expression that clarify the author’s creativity. Moreover, the concept of an “idea” should be defined broadly as the residual locus of uncopyrightable elements in a work, rather than a cohesive concept that attempts to definitively pin down the “idea” behind that individual work. Taking this two-pronged solution would thus both recognize visual and photographic work’s unique niche within copyright as well as align these forms of art with copyright’s law’s ultimate objective of authorship protection.

A Framework for Assessing Technology Hubs in Africa

A Framework for Assessing Technology Hubs in Africa

This article explains the importance of technology hubs as drivers of innovation, social change, and economic opportunity within and beyond the African continent. It includes a thorough review and synthesis of findings from multi-disciplinary literature, and integrates insights from qualitative data gathered via interviews and fieldwork. It identifies three archetypes of hubs—clusters, companies, and countries—and discusses examples of each archetype using Kenya as a case study. The article then discusses potential collaboration, conflicts, and competition among these archetypes of hubs, and concludes with recommendations for future researchers.

Encryption and the Press Clause

Encryption and the Press Clause

Almost twenty years ago, a hostile debate over whether government could regulate encryption—later named the Crypto Wars—seized the country. At the center of this debate stirred one simple question: is encryption protected speech? This issue touched all branches of government percolating from Congress, to the President, and eventually to the federal courts. In a waterfall of cases, several United States Court of Appeals appeared to reach a consensus that encryption was protected speech under the First Amendment, and with that the Crypto Wars appeared to be over, until now.

Nearly twenty years later, the Crypto Wars have returned. Following recent mass shootings, law enforcement has once again questioned the legal protection for encryption and tried to implement “backdoor” techniques to access messages sent over encrypted channels. In the case, Apple v. FBI, the agency tried to compel Apple to grant access to the iPhone of a San Bernardino shooter. The case was never decided, but the legal arguments briefed before the court were essentially the same as they were two decades prior. Apple and amici supporting the company argued that encryption was protected speech.

While these arguments remain convincing, circumstances have changed in ways that should be reflected in the legal doctrines that lawyers use. Unlike twenty years ago, today surveillance is ubiquitous, and the need for encryption is no longer felt by a seldom few. Encryption has become necessary for even the most basic exchange of information given that most Americans share “nearly every aspect of their lives—from the mundane to the intimate” over the Internet, as stated in a recent Supreme Court opinion.*

Given these developments, lawyers might consider a new justification under the Press Clause. In addition to the many doctrinal concerns that exist with protection under the Speech Clause, the Press Clause is normatively and descriptively more accurate at protecting encryption as a tool for secure communication without fear of government surveillance. This Article outlines that framework by examining the historical and theoretical transformation of the Press Clause since its inception.
—————————
* Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473, 2490 (2014).

The Challenging Economics of the Companion Diagnostics Industry: A Compelling Case for Invigorated Patent Protection

The Challenging Economics of the Companion Diagnostics Industry: A Compelling Case for Invigorated Patent Protection

Diagnostic tests are a core component of modern health care practice: they determine a patient’s susceptibility to developing cancer and other disorders; they diagnose biological conditions; they monitor the progress of disease; and they can assess the risk of disease recurrence. Ensuring their innovative growth is therefore an important issue in innovation policy. While legal scholarship addresses much about the relevance of patents and other forms of intellectual property protection for diagnostic methods as a general matter, far less attention has been paid to a distinct class of diagnostic tests that deserves its own innovation policy debate: companion diagnostic tests. This note seeks to draw more attention to the economic challenges facing the companion diagnostics industry. It begins by providing the necessary background to understand what companion diagnostic tests are, and why they are vital to the future of modern healthcare. It then explores the unique underlying incentive structure amongst the key industry stakeholders, revealing how the incentives of these stakeholders are misaligned in ways that impede the industry’s growth. Relying on empirical data from case studies collected in pharmacology and biotechnology business literature, this note ultimately argues that the microeconomics of the companion diagnostics industry present a compelling case for invigorated patent protection of companion diagnostic tests.

Un-Blurring Substantial Similarity: Aesthetic Judgments and Romantic Authorship in Music Copyright Law

Un-Blurring Substantial Similarity: Aesthetic Judgments and Romantic Authorship in Music Copyright Law

Music copyright disputes have been in the limelight since long before George Harrison subconsciously ripped off the Chiffons. Yet, with copyright holders becoming ever more litigious, disputes over musical rights are revolving around increasingly narrow claims. While copyright law is meant to only protect the expression of an idea, rather than the idea itself, drawing the line is problematic and too often results in overly expansive definitions of “expression.” Lacking any objective definitions of the terms, determining when an idea becomes expression depends entirely on how one defines “art.” A recent case finding that pop-musicians Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams infringed Marvin Gaye’s 1970s funk song, “Got to Give It Up,” by copying the amorphously defined “feel” and “sound” of the song, exemplifies the stifling affect our law is having on artists. After examining the evolution of the circuits’ current, and varied copyright infringement tests, this note ultimately suggests a unified and more precise approach that utilizes not only experts who are well-versed in the specific genres of art at issue, but also analytic dissection that carefully considers only protectable elements when determining if works are “substantially similar.”

Correlative Obligation in Patent Law: The Role of Public Good in Defining the Limits of Patent Exclusivity

Correlative Obligation in Patent Law: The Role of Public Good in Defining the Limits of Patent Exclusivity

In light of the recent outrageous price-spiking of pharmaceuticals, this Article questions the underlying justifications for exclusive rights conferred by the grant of a patent. Traditionally, patents are defined as property rights granted to encourage desirable innovation. This definition is a misfit as treating patents as property rights does a poor job of defining the limits of the patent rights as well as the public benefit goals of the system. This misfit gradually caused an imbalance in the rights versus duties construct within patent law. After a thorough analysis of the historical and philosophical perspectives of patent exclusivity, this Article concludes that the extent of exclusivity that patent monopoly currently bestows is unsupported by the philosophy of patent exclusivity that asserts strong public benefits. Alternatively, this Article presents the law of contracts as embodying a framework within which patent law can fit better. By viewing the grant of a patent as a contract with the government in exchange for the patent holder providing a benefit to society, patent owners shall have duties to the society that correspond to their rights under the patent.

Disrupting the Balance: The Conflict Between Hatch-Waxman and Inter Partes Review

Disrupting the Balance: The Conflict Between Hatch-Waxman and Inter Partes Review

Since the enactment of the America Invents Act, inter partes review has been a new pathway for challenging patents. This administrative proceeding at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has had a pro-challenger bias. IPR proceedings apply a lower standard of proof than federal district courts, use the anti-patentee claim construction standard of broadest reasonable construction, and lack the Article III standing requirement of district court litigation. This Article explains how these differences create great uncertainty in pharmaceutical patents, and what could be done to restore the balance that was created in the Hatch-Waxman Act.

Pharmaceutical patents have their own alternative litigation pathways with the Hatch-Waxman Act, passed by Congress over three decades ago, and the recent Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act. Both balance between stimulating innovation from brand companies who hold patents and facilitating market entry from generic companies who challenge the patents. Hatch-Waxman and BPCIA litigation occur in the federal district courts, which have significantly lower patent invalidation rates than IPR proceedings. The Article argues that this uncertainty in patent rights will harm pharmaceutical innovation by decreasing incentives. Pharmaceutical companies will not spend the billions of dollars needed to research, develop, and bring a drug to market if patent validity in IPR proceedings is uncertain. In the end, the author proposes several reforms for Congress to enact that can reduce the disparities between IPR proceedings and Hatch-Waxman litigation so the balance between patent holders and patent challengers is restored.