Thomas Edison and Patent Law

I want to draw your attention to a new paper by my colleague Lea Shaver on “Illuminating Innovation:  From Patent Racing to Patent War,” which discusses the legal history surrounding the invention of the light bulb. The paper then draws lessons from that story for the ongoing patent war over smartphones and tablets.

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1 Response

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    Without at all meaning to single out your colleague for blame, I note as a former in-house IP lawyer that this article continues a rich tradition of patent scholars claiming to be putting forward “a new model of patent strategy” (to quote the SSRN abstract), without having any experience in industry, nor, apparently, consulting with in-house lawyers, who have been using patent strategies for well over a century. Many of the cites also parochially refer to legal scholarship for points available in general histories and other sources — again, not at all unique to this paper. (An offhand example: note 73, which cites a 2010 law review paper for an insight that one can find in a 2007 semi-popular history book, David Edgerton’s The Shock of the Old (Oxford U Press), just to mention a source off the top of my head; no doubt Edgerton was late to the game himself.) It would be nice if scholars, esp. ones without industry experience, would talk to industry lawyers once in a while before theorizing about about what those lawyers are doing. And especially, to borrow a phrase from the patent biz, don’t claim novelty when you’re unfamiliar with the prior art.