This research Chair started in 2013 for a five-year period. It aims to develop empirical and theoretical research on markets for technology (hereafter MFT) and the key role of Intellectual Property law in these markets. Our purposes are twofold: i) Developing high-level academic research on the economics of MFT and ii) contributing to on-goingdebates on MFT by disseminating results from academic research to a wider audience.
The Chair is directed by Margaret Kyle, and supported by Air Liquide, Microsoft and Philips.
The last decade has seen a rapid development of the trade of technologies as intangible assets (disembodied from products) at the global scale and across a large array of sectors. MFT are generally perceived as a means to foster the diffusion of technology and innovation. They may also change the organization of competition, and induce a redistribution of key intellectual assets at the global scale. Accordingly, they are drawing growing interest among policy makers.
IP rights make it possible to capture and valorize disembodied technology, and are therefore the cornerstone of these developing markets. Nevertheless, transactions in MFT are difficult, which has recently prompted the emergence a variety of market matching models and intermediaries (e.g., VCFs, TTOs, patent pools, trading platforms, patent auctions, patent rating, patent funds or other non-practicing entities). In most cases, it remains unclear whether these initiatives really offer effective solutions to enhance technology trading. Some of them – such as the proactive and aggressive enforcement of patents purchased by so-called “patent trolls”– also fuel controversy on possible misuses of the patent system.
Against this background, this research program focuses on the role of IP in MFT, as opposed to the widespread but misleading notion of markets for IP. MFT is indeed a broad notion that may encompass a large variety of practices, from the sale or licensing of IP rights to the acquisition of entire startup companies. While IP rights certainly play a key role in all cases, this role may differ between market channels. Accordingly, the trade of IPRs cannot be properly analyzed if not casted in the broader perspective of MFT.