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Full-Text Articles in Law

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz Jan 2011

Collective Choice, Justin Schwartz

Justin Schwartz

This short nontechnical article reviews the Arrow Impossibility Theorem and its implications for rational democratic decisionmaking. In the 1950s, economist Kenneth J. Arrow proved that no method for producing a unique social choice involving at least three choices and three actors could satisfy four seemingly obvious constraints that are practically constitutive of democratic decisionmaking. Any such method must violate such a constraint and risks leading to disturbingly irrational results such and Condorcet cycling. I explain the theorem in plain, nonmathematical language, and discuss the history, range, and prospects of avoiding what seems like a fundamental theoretical challenge to the possibility ...


Creation Without Restraint: Promoting Liberty And Rivalry In Innovation, Christina Bohannan, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2011

Creation Without Restraint: Promoting Liberty And Rivalry In Innovation, Christina Bohannan, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This document contains the table of contents, introduction, and a brief description of Christina Bohannan & Herbert Hovenkamp, Creation without Restraint: Promoting Liberty and Rivalry in Innovation (Oxford 2011).

Promoting rivalry in innovation requires a fusion of legal policies drawn from patent, copyright, and antitrust law, as well as economics and other disciplines. Creation Without Restraint looks first at the relationship between markets and innovation, noting that innovation occurs most in moderately competitive markets and that small actors are more likely to be truly creative innovators. Then we examine the problem of connected and complementary relationships, a dominant feature of high technology markets. Interconnection requirements, technological compatibility requirements, standard setting, and the relationship between durable products and aftermarkets all involve interconnection, or “tying.” Some see tying as inherently anticompetitive, while others view it as unexceptionally benign. In fact, bundling products or technologies is essential in high technology markets and most of it is socially beneficial, but possibilities of abuse nevertheless remain.

Identifying good substantive legal rules for facilitating innovation is often very difficult. Two generations ago antitrust law addressed problems of complexity by shifting the focus to harm. The courts reasoned that they could often avoid unmanageable substantive doctrine by considering whether the plaintiff had suffered the appropriate kind of injury. Plaintiffs who are injured by more rather than less competition should be denied a remedy. In the case of patent and copyright law, the appropriate question is whether an infringer’s conduct served to undermine the right holder’s incentive to innovate, with incentives measured from before the innovation occurred. Some IP infringements do no harm to the incentive to innovate; others actually make the right more rather than less valuable. In these situations relief should be denied.

Patent and copyright law are both in crisis today – major problems include overissuance, overly broad and ambiguously defined protections, and rules that permit both patentees and copyright holders to make broad claims on unforeseen innovations. The result has been that many patents are valueless, while others have very considerable value precisely because they enclose ideas or technologies that rightfully belong in the public domain. Patent law could be ...