Robert Merges

Robert Merges Explains Why Rivals Compete for Nortel Patents

The Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2011 by Peg Brickley

The sheer size of Nortel’s portfolio expands the strategic options for buyers, said Robert Merges…. “The way this game is played, someone throws a stack of patents on the table, and someone else throws a stack on the table and the one with the shortest stack comes out on the losing end,” Mr. Merges said.

Robert Merges Endorses Patent Reform Bill

The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2011 by Jess Bravin

A patent overhaul bill … permits third parties to challenge patents, even after they are granted, through administrative proceedings at the Patent and Trademark Office. Robert Merges … said the challenge provision in the bill “just became a little more important” in light of the high court’s ruling. “It’s a cheaper alternative to litigation, and some people think it’s a better forum for trying to invalidate patents,” he said.

Robert Merges, Pamela Samuelson Argue for First-to-File Patent Law

San Francisco Chronicle, March 9, 2011 by Carolyn Lochhead

UC Berkeley law Professor Robert Merges said concerns among small inventors are wildly overblown. They would be able to file placeholder applications and have a year to hone their inventions, he said.

Pamela Samuelson … said in an e-mail that the United States and the Philippines are the only nations that have first-to-invent systems. “The international norm is that the first inventor to file gets a patent,” Samuelson said. “The economic arguments in favor of the first-to-file system are strong and the ‘little guy’ inventor story that this rule favors big firms is really a myth.”

Robert Merges Sees Economic Benefit in Parody Defense

American University Intellectual Property Brief, November 25, 2010 by Caroline Gousse

US legal scholars have seen an economic justification in the admission of a parody defense. Robert P. Merges, for example, assumes that the parody defense should be admitted when “there is a clear market failure for parody licenses.”

Robert Merges Comments on Oracle Copyright Victory Against SAP

The New York Times, November 23, 2010 by Verne G. Kopytoff

“This is pretty dramatic,” said Robert P. Merges, a technology law professor at University of California, Berkeley. He said it sent a loud message to companies to pay attention to any signs of copyright infringement. “It’s a game-ending home run type of result. It will tell people ‘Hey, we need to be careful.'”

Robert Merges Discusses Stanford’s IP Case Against Roche

KQED, November 1, 2010 Host Stephanie Martin

[Merges] said the professor signed intellectual property agreements with both entities, and the court will have to sort it all out. “That’s one issue. The other, probably the bigger impact, will be that all of the University lawyers and all of the company lawyers will look at this case and say, ‘My God, we better get this all straightened out long in advance to make sure we don’t wind up in a case like this.'”

Robert Merges Reflects on Seminal Patent Law Paper

States News Service, September 22, 2010 (Link no longer active. Go to G:\Law School in the News\News Clips for article)

“On the Complex Economics of Patent Scope” was a breakthrough piece of scholarship that has helped shape the debate over the patent law’s influence on technological innovation. The article concluded that patent law should strive to preserve competition for technological improvements, even at the expense of eroding incentives for pioneer firms to some extent…. In one of the conference’s anticipated highlights, Merges will present his own reflections on the article he co-wrote in 1990, along with thoughts on how today’s patent system is shaping technological advancement.

Robert Merges and Pamela Samuelson Analyze Patent Survey Findings

-Patently-O Blog, Parts I-III July 19-21, 2010 by Robert Merges, Pamela Samuelson, and Ted Sichelman

The 2008 Berkeley Patent Survey has found that startups are patenting more than previous studies have suggested; that patents are being sought for a variety of reasons, the most prominent of which is to prevent copying of the innovation; and that there are considerable differences among startups in the perceived significance of patents for attaining competitive advantage, with biotech companies rating them as the most important strategy and software companies rating them least important.

Our fourth major result is that our respondents—particularly software companies—find the high costs of patenting and enforcing their patents deter them from filing for patents on their innovations. Given the reported importance of patents to startups not only in the financing process, but also for strategic reasons—especially for increasing bargaining power—these cost barriers are worrisome.

The data, however, present an interesting paradox: If executives believe that patents provide relatively weak incentives to innovate, why are so many startup firms seeking them? Our first post indicated that securing financing was a reason why many firms reported seeking patents…. Raising money, rather than invention itself, may be the key.

-O’Reilly Radar, July 21, 2010 by Pamela Samuelson

The initial findings reported here and in the larger article suggest that software entrepreneurs do not find persuasive the canonical story that patents provide strong incentives to invest in technology innovation.

-Technology Review, Feld Thoughts Blog, July 28, 2010 by Brad Feld

The juiciest conclusion is about halfway through the essay and is “One of the most striking findings of our study is that software firms ranked patents dead last among seven strategies for attaining competitive advantage identified by the survey.” Another one was “We were surprised to discover that the software respondents reported that patents provide only weak incentives for engaging in core activities, such as invention of new products (.96) and commercialization (.93).”