Intellectual Property

In Chapter 10, we are briefly introduced to the legal area of antitrust, the relevant laws of which seek to prevent anticompetitive activities that reduce or eliminate economic competition. Some of these activities can result in criminal liability for corporations (e.g., fines) as well as corporate employees (e.g., jail time). Specifically, it is a crime for companies to engage in hardcore cartel activity, and it is a crime for individual companies to monopolize any part of interstate commerce. For more information, skim (1) U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Antitrust Div., Price Fixing, Bid Rigging, and Market Allocation Schemes: What They Are And What To Look For, available at https://www.justice.gov/atr/file/810261/download (Links to an external site.) (Sep. 28, 2005); and (2) U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Antitrust Div., Antitrust Laws and You, available at https://www.justice.gov/atr/antitrust-laws-and-you (Links to an external site.) (last updated Jan. 5, 2017) (“An unlawful monopoly exists when one firm controls the market for a product or service, and it has obtained that market power, not because its product or service is superior to others, but by suppressing competition with anticompetitive conduct.”). But in Chapter 9, we learn that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 states that: “Congress shall have Power To . . . promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective writings and discoveries.” This is commonly referred to as the Patent and Copyright Clause. In other words, the ownership of intellectual property inherently creates a limited monopoly in the protected property. Given our materials, we have learned that some monopolies are good, while others are bad. Why is this? Specifically, what are the purpose of antitrust laws, and what is the rationale behind the Patent and Copyright Clause? 

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