Vanquish Copyright Pirates, Patent Trolls, and Content Counterfeiters: Protecting Intellectual Property Through Legislative Change
Robert E. Thomas
University of Florida - Warrington College of Business Administration; Business Law & Legal Studies
University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business
January 13, 2013
The United States has gone from a net – and frequently illegal – importer of intellectual property (IP) to the World’s biggest IP supplier in a historically short time. During the past quarter century, IP holders have teamed with government entities to support international initiatives and legislation to combat the unauthorized acquisition of IP. These battles – which primarily targeted activity in developing and non-Western nations – were extremely successful. However, the intellectual property coalitions that fought these battles have splintered with copyright and patent holders pursuing initiatives that advance their divergent interests. This paper develops a theory of how IP interests groups employ legal and institutional mechanisms to exclude unauthorized use of their intellectual property and how the success of such actions varies with the strength of supporting and opposing coalitions. Initial gains came with comparative ease because a cohesive IP coalition faced little opposition. This coalition is now splintered with sub-IP interest groups facing differing levels of opposition. Until now, copyright interest groups has enjoyed the most success in enacting legislative change through the cohesiveness of their coalition. Patent interests groups, which are splintered, have struggled to obtain comparatively modest patent law reforms. However, with the failed push to implement ACTA and the success of the patent sector in getting the AIA enacted, results achieved by the respective interest groups have changed. The theory developed in this paper provides a framework for analyzing these interactions and identifies the likely nature and probable success of future IP legislative initiatives.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: intellectual property, patents, copyright, political economics, ACTA, America Invents, Shield Act, patent trolls, pirates, interest groups
JEL Classification: D70, D72, D78, O34, O38, K11working papers series
Date posted: January 14, 2013
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