'All Life is an Experiment': Research Tool Patents, Epistemological Monopolies, and the First Amendment

51 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2013

See all articles by Peter Lee

Peter Lee

University of California, Davis - School of Law

Date Written: August 23, 2013

Abstract

Patents on research tools — technological inputs to basic scientific research — have attracted significant scholarly attention. Most of the existing literature focuses on the potential for such patents to inhibit basic scientific research and downstream commercial development through creating tragedies of the anticommons. While some empirical work has cast doubt on the anticommons theory, the potential for research tools to inhibit basic research persists. Building upon these economic accounts of research tool patents, this Article examines the First Amendment implications of exclusive rights on foundational research technologies. Examining several prevailing theories of the First Amendment, it argues that exclusive rights on research tools may seriously jeopardize traditional First Amendment interests in facilitating a robust marketplace of ideas, ensuring individual self-realization, promoting democratic discourse, and checking central political authority.

Keywords: patents, First Amendment, research tools, biomedical science, tragedy of the anticommons, legal theory

Suggested Citation

Lee, Peter, 'All Life is an Experiment': Research Tool Patents, Epistemological Monopolies, and the First Amendment (August 23, 2013). UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 348. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2315256 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2315256

Peter Lee (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - School of Law ( email )

Martin Luther King, Jr. Hall
Davis, CA CA 95616-5201
United States

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