Mines-Telecom Chair on "IP and Markets for Technology"
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-going debates on MFT by disseminating results from academic research to a wider audience.
The Chair is directed by Yann Ménière, and currently supported by Air Liquide, Microsoft and Philips.
Context and motivation
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 new market matching models and intermediaries (e.g., 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.
The research questions are organized around three main research axes listed below. In all cases, priority is given to the collection and exploitation of data to produce relevant empirical evidence.
Articulating IP rights and technology
While economists frequently posit a simple equation between patent and innovation, our purpose here is to explore the imperfect articulation between IP rights and technology. On one hand, IP rights (patents, but also copyright, trademark or trade secret) are necessary to capture, codify and signal technology at different development stages. On the other hand, they may not cover all the know-how enabling the effective use of a technology, and their effectiveness as a protection mechanism is conditional to costly monitoring and enforcement procedures. By taking such factors into consideration, we aim to better account for the variety of practices and channels for trading knowledge in different industries, and to highlight the main obstacles still hampering the development of MFT.
Intermediaries in MFT
Technologies assets are highly heterogeneous, of uncertain value, and only partially covered by IP rights. As a result, their trading is hampered by important transaction costs, which various types of intermediaries (patent pools, defensive aggregators, trading platforms, patent “trolls”) claim to reduce. Against this background, our purpose is to review existing initiatives and the underlying business models, carry out theoretical analysis and collect empirical evidence in order to assess their actual and potential impact on the efficiency of MFT.
MFT and industrial organization
MFT enable vertical separation and specialization between R&D and production activities, which in turn changes the way in which companies organize and compete within an industry. We study the way competition works in MFT and how it affects in turn downstream product markets. We are especially interested in two important developments, namely i) firms’ ability to use MFT to develop joint technology or share their innovations while competing downstream, ii) the conditions for R&D specialization and externalization and their long term consequences on innovation and competition.
The program involves scholars from MINES ParisTech and TELECOM ParisTech, as well as fellow researchers from other universities. The team has a good record of academic publications, and especially a strong experience in the production and analysis of new empirical evidence. During the past years, it has also capitalized a real industry and policy expertise in the field.
Members of the team:
Yann Ménière, Assistant professor at Cerna, MINES ParisTech
Maya Bacache, Assistant professor at TELECOM ParisTech
Marc Bourreau, Professor at TELECOM ParisTech
François Lévêque, Professor at Cerna, MINES ParisTech
Tim Pohlmann, Post Doc at Cerna, MINES ParisTech
Charlène Cosandier, PhD student at Cerna, MINES ParisTech
Rafael Ferraz, PhD student at MINES ParisTech
The team has also established regular collaborations with:
Reiko Aoki, Professor at Hitotsubashi University Tokyo
Justus Baron, Post Doc fellow at Sciences-Po Paris and associate researcher at Cerna, MINES ParisTech
Antoine Dechezleprêtre, Research Fellow at London School of Economics
Henry Delcamp, French Ministry of Economics and associate researcher at Cerna, MINES ParisTech
Catalina Martinez, Research Fellow at CSIC Madrid