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Trademarks and the Boundaries of the Firm

50 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2009  

Dan L. Burk

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Brett McDonnell

University of Minnesota Law School

Abstract

Coase’s theory of the firm has become a familiar tool to analyze the structure and organization of businesses. Such analyses have increasingly focused on property based theories of the firm, including intellectual property. In previous work we have discussed the application of this model to patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. Here we take up the theory of the firm with regard to trademarks, which act as signals of firm reputation, and so have application and effects that differ substantially from other forms of intellectual property. Using the framework from our previous analyses, we examine the propensity of trademarks to lower transactions costs between firms, as well as within firms, suggesting that such doctrines will have significant effects on the size and structure of the firm.

Keywords: trademark, intellectual property, reputation, Coase, theory of the firm, franchise

JEL Classification: D21, D23, L11, L14, L22, L23, O34

Suggested Citation

Burk, Dan L. and McDonnell, Brett, Trademarks and the Boundaries of the Firm. UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2009-28; Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-34. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1461678 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1461678

Dan L. Burk (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

4500 Berkeley Place
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States
949-824-9325 (Phone)

Brett H. McDonnell

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-625-1373 (Phone)

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