On March 15th the IP Conversazione took place in Oxford as part of the 17th Annual Oxford International Intellectual Property Law Moot. The moot pitted students of IP law from around the world against each other to argue a trade mark case involving two identical trade marks used for different but reasonably similar goods. Roger Teichman and I were invited to speak to participants about work related to this question. This post summarises some of my comments and adds some details that have emerged since.
Philosophy of Trademarks
Roger drew our attention to Borges’ classification of animals that includes headings such as: “embalmed ones” and “others”. This classification, though odd, might well serve a purpose and it can be used to group animals together that are similar with respect to the classification. Roger used the example to illustrate a point: a judgement that animals or goods are similar requires a…
In my previous post, I summarised a demand-side explanation of the British Industrial Revolution. In this post, I will outline a supply-side explanation put forward by economic historians Margaret Jacob and Joel Mokyr. According to the supporters of the supply-side explanation, Britain had a supply of human capital who were capable of using science and engineering knowledge to solve practical problems. Besides having a comparative advantage in human capital over continental Europe, by the eighteenth century, Britain had the necessary institutional environment that promoted the principles of the market economy. Interaction between the forces of market economy and science made the practical applications of scientific discoveries more successful in Britain. This did not happen in continental Europe, because, for centuries, the political and religious establishment had been restricting the advancement of science if it conflicted with their political agenda and Western Europe was politically fragmented.
At the heart of the government’s industrial strategy is a commitment to increase overall UK investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP in 2027. Currently investment stands at 1.67% of GDP. So this has got to be a good thing? Actually this target is not very ambitious when measured against comparable countries and this lack of ambition is likely to affect the future prosperity of people living in the UK.
A comparison between the UK, France and Germany using OECD data shows that the UK has invested less in R&D than France as a share of GDP since 1986 and less than Germany since 1980. These differences are large and have persisted over a long time. It is perhaps worth noting that the share of R&D spending in GDP for the United states has always been above 2.4% and recently has been at around 2.7%.
A previous post outlined a number of major inventions (or macro-inventions) of the eighteenth century that were the basis for the inventions of the nineteenth century that propelled productivity growth. These innovations, according to Robert Allen, would not have taken place in Britain in the absence of cheap coal deposits. Another unique factor driving the innovations was Britain’s expensive labour. Labour was expensive in Britain, and economic historians have traced the origins of the high wages back to the Black Death plague (in the 14th century) that reduced the working age population significantly. Moreover, Britain’s commercial success in the international economy played a role in the growth of wages.
The First Asia-Pacific Workshop on Empirical Methods in Innovation, IP and Competition was held atNational Law Universityin Delhi in early March 2017. The workshop brought together researchers and regulators from India and South East Asia. Sessions focussed on the economics of IP law, the link between competition and IP law, regulation of competition and empirical research on effects of patents, trade marks, copyright and alternatives to IP.