Intellectual Property: Domestic and International Perspectives

Apr 16, 2008Apr 17, 2008


Session One: Wednesday, April 16th
“The Challenges of Intellectual Property in the Global Arena”

Victoria Espinel
Visiting Assistant Professor
George Mason School of Law

Click Here for a video archive of day one.

Session Two: Thursday, April 17th
"Is the Light Bulb Broken? - Issues in Patent Failure"

Samson Vermont 
Assistant Professor
George Mason School of Law

Click Here to view PDF.

Click Here for a video archive of day two.

The development of new ideas and technologies are of fundamental importance to a nation’s economy. Accordingly, the ability to protect these creations of the mind through an intellectual property system is just as vital. If functioning properly, intellectual property spurs innovation and product development by allowing inventors to reap the benefits of their efforts. If functioning improperly, many of these great advancements may never see the light of day. To address some areas of recent concern, the Mercatus Center will host a two-day program on current intellectual property issues.

Innovators now operate within a global marketplace with a free flow of information across borders. While new opportunities for investment abound, it has become easier for counterfeiters to engage in intellectual piracy and other forms of IP infringement. Rising concerns about international intellectual property enforcement have prompted nations to use trade agreements and the aid of intergovernmental agencies to settle disputes and avoid litigation. Victoria Espinel, a visiting professor at the George Mason University School of Law and former Assistant United States Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation, will describe the issues surrounding IP rights in the global context and methods to maintain a strong international intellectual property system.

On the domestic side, there are many repeated claims that the patent system has become so complicated that it no longer effectively encourages innovation. Critics cite the blurred boundaries of current patents’ jurisdiction, extensive litigation, frivolous or obvious inventions, and “patent trolls” as symptoms of a system in need of some changes. Experts disagree, however, as to the extent to which it is impaired; some believe it is irreparable while others assert that only moderate adjustments are needed. Samson Vermont from the George Mason University School of Law will analyze the aspects of patent failure and reform options that could have a credible impact on the system.

Join us as we address questions such as:

  • Are IP rights protected in the international setting? How does IP figure into the dynamics between countries?

  • How are IP rights disputed around the world and what are the roles of the WTO, USTR and individual trade agreements?

  • Do patents act as property rights over ideas? How has this system become more complicated with the advancement of new technology? Which industries benefit more from strong patents than others?

  • How do the current challenges in patent law affect the future and do structural changes need to be made to the system?