Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Patent Conference

Early in A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, the titular Yankee, Hank Morgan, upon becoming King Arthur's "perpectual minister and executive", explains the importance he places on patents:
the very first official thing I did, in my administration—and it was on the very first day of it, too—was to start a patent office; for I knew that a country without a patent office and good patent laws was just a crab, and couldn't travel any way but sideways or backways.
Although this sentiment appears in a work of humor, many earnestly share Morgan's views on the importance of patents.  The recent explosion of patent scholarship reflects the growing perception that patents and patent systems are crucial instruments of public policy - instruments capable of generating benefits and costs for society.  Now, the increasingly important field of patent research has its own annual home:  The Patent Conference.

On April 8, 2011, the inaugural Patent Conference will be held at the University of Kansas School of Law.  The Patent Conference will be an annual event featuring the bleeding edge of patent scholarship.  This year, The Patent Conference schedule features research on patent infringement, patent damages, patent courts, empirical patent analysis, patent litigation, interdisciplinary patent studies, and Asian patent law.  Here is a press release from the inaugural host institution, the University of Kansas School of Law, describing the event:

Conference to bring world’s top patent scholars to School of Law

LAWRENCE — A critical mass of the world’s foremost patent scholars will present their latest research at the inaugural Patent Conference at the University of Kansas School of Law. 
The Patent Conference, or PatCon, will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, April 8, in the Stinson Morrison Hecker Lecture Hall, 104 Green Hall. The event is free and open to the public.
The conference is a cooperative effort between the KU School of Law, the Chicago-Kent College of Law, the University of San Diego School of Law and Boston College Law School to hold an annual conference at which patent scholars in law, economics, management science and other disciplines can share their research. After this year’s inaugural conference, future gatherings will rotate among the four schools, returning to KU in 2015. 
“The scholarly study of patents has exploded in importance over the last decade,” said Andrew Torrance, a KU associate professor of law and an internationally known scholar in patent law, intellectual property law, food and drug law, and biodiversity law. “It has undergone a rapid transformation from a small niche field within intellectual property, largely overshadowed by copyright and trademark law, to an academic discipline that now attracts the enthusiastic attention of schools of law, business, public policy, engineering and medicine, as well as departments of economics, history, science and technology studies — and even science and mathematics.
“Clearly, the time has arrived for the field to have a permanent academic home, which is why we decided to found The Patent Conference.”
Torrance cofounded the conference with his colleagues David Schwartz, Chicago-Kent College of Law; Ted Sichelman, University of San Diego School of Law; and David Olson, Boston College Law School.
Nearly 40 patent scholars will make presentations in a series of panel discussions. Broad themes will include patent infringement, patent damages, patent courts, empirical patent analysis, patent litigation, interdisciplinary patent studies and Asian patent law. A complete schedule is available on the law school website.
“We are delighted that the response to the inaugural Patent Conference has been so positive,” Torrance said. “With almost 40 confirmed speakers from dozens of institutions in attendance, many of the finest patent scholars in the world will be presenting their work right here at KU School of Law. In a world that depends on technological innovation more than ever before, the cofounders and I hope this event will help spur the field of patent research to even greater success.”
The Patent Conference is sponsored by Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP and the KU School of Law.
Patent law has attracted considerable controversy of late.  Patents are capable of inspiring both passionate support from those who believe they are necessary to spur technological innovation, on the one hand, and grave concern from those who oppose the monopoly rights to exclude others they confer upon their owners and favor more open models of innovation, on the other.  The importance of these and other issues has led to the founding of The Patent Conference, which will provide an annual venue for the free exchange of ideas and research about patents.