Distribution, Competition, and Antitrust / Intellectual Property (IP) Law

For Those in the Bay Area . . . David D. Friedman, Ph.D. talk on Ronald Coase — January 23

The University of Chicago Logo

The Chicago Economics Society Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series is hosting a talk by David D. Friedman, Professor of Law at Santa Clara University, on Thursday, January 23 at 6:00 pm at the University Club of San Francisco.

Dr. Friedman will discuss the work of the late Ronald Coase, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Law School and 1991 recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. Coase advanced legal and economic thought through his own seminal work and as the Editor of the University’s Law and Economics Journal. He is widely regarded as one of the founding scholars of the field of law and economics.

Dr. Friedman’s area of expertise ranges from business to economics to law. He has published economic analyses of punitive damages, trade-secret law, criminal punishment, the size of nations, and a variety of other topics, including medical care, population economics, the economics of war, historical perspectives on freedom, and criminal defense.

The reception begins at 6 pm and is to be followed by the presentation at 6:30 pm.

Cost is $15 per person.

Location is the University Club of San Francisco
800 Powell Street.

Non alums may use this link for ease of registration.  Alums can use this link.

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Antitrust Writing Awards Need Your Vote

The Institute of Competition Law has announced its annual Antitrust Writing Awards & Ranking for 2014.

As the Institute states:

The Academic Articles Awards reward the best articles published in peer-reviewed journals in 2013.

These Awards aim at promoting antitrust scholarship.  50 articles will be selected by the Editorial Committee by Dec. 31, 2013.  The Academic Steering Committee and the readers will nominate 16 of these articles.  The Board will elect the 8 winning articles on March 25, 2014.

You can peruse the already-nominated articles (the first stage of the competition is now closed) and vote by clicking on the link above.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

(Photo credit: James Marvin Phelps)

Happy holidays and best wishes for the New Year.  Blogging will resume after the 1st.

 

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Reading Between the Lines vs. Twilight Movies: The Most “Creative” Market Definition I’ve Ever Read

Twilight (series)

Twilight (series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think the award for most creative market definition (at least for 2013) has to go to the plaintiff in Between the Lines Productions, LLC v. Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., Case No. 13-cv-3584 (S.D.N.Y. May 30, 2013). There, the producers of a parody film called “Twiharder” recently filed suit against Lion Gate, the makers of, among other things, the popular Twilight movie series.

“Defendants’ anticompetitive conduct sets the benchmark example for why James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were apprehensive in the months leading up to the Philadelphia Convention about granting authors even limited copyright monopolies over their works,” Between the Lines writes in its complaint.

According to the (219!) page complaint, the defendants have sought to monopolize the “conversation” in “adjacent” or downstream markets, i.e., in markets downstream of the primary market “of original intention targeted to consumers of teen fantasy romance.” One of the downstream markets is the “Z Market,” defined as the market for the creation of novel works that are repulsed by the Twilight movies. Allegedly, defendants have achieved the monopolization of these “Fair Use Zones” through a highly oppressive intellectual property enforcement policy that uses sham cease and desist notices and a compendium of prohibited trademark / service mark registrations to chill speech and exclude all competition from the “Z Market.”

The complaint actually details five (!) different relevant antitrust markets and contains a full-page chart (at page 112) detailing them all.

The plaintiff seeks $375 million in damages for alleged breaches of federal antitrust laws.

Look, this is fun and creative. It illustrates nicely what happens when Hollywood bumps into antitrust law. But all I can say about these market definitions is: good luck with that.  To the extent the plaintiff was hoping to get some publicity for its creativity, kudos.

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“Mavericks, Monopolies and Beer”

 

Anheuser-Busch pioneered the use of refrigerat...

Anheuser-Busch pioneered the use of refrigerated railroad cars for transporting beer to a national market. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NPR’s Planet Money team had a nice story/podcast last week on the Anheuser-Busch / Grupo Modelo deal and DOJ’s efforts to block it.  Available here.

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The Unbearable Heaviness of Being the Bluebook

The Bluebook

(with apologies to Milan Kundera)

There are of course many inefficiencies in our legal system.  An admittedly smaller one — though probably a lot larger than you might think — is also one of the more egregious.

I’m talking about the Bluebook, the bible for legal citations in the United States.  The recent 18th edition weighs in at a massive 415 pages.  That’s 415 pages of material to tell us how to format citations in legal papers.

Let’s compare and contrast.  In the biomedical field, we have “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals.”  Check it out — the requirements are short.  In biology and related fields, we have the Vancouver System.  And for electrical engineering, there is the IEEE Style Manual.  Electrical engineering is complicated stuff — I daresay more complex than most areas of law – but the IEEE Style Manual is only 18 pages long.

Now look — of course it’s important to have some rules as to citation format and style.  Otherwise, things could get confusing.  But do you really think law needs 415 pages to accomplish that?  When’s the last time you ever heard a complaint that one of your citations was formatted incorrectly?  I can’t remember the issue ever coming up.  Courts have better things to do.

In the meantime, many, many hours are spent learning the Bluebook and complying with it.  To what end?  If the electrical engineers, biologists, and other scientists can live with short pamphlets regarding citation style, why can’t the lawyers?

Why is the Bluebook so bloated?  I’m not sure.  It may be because that in the legal field, the Bluebook is published and guarded by various law reviews, who earn income from its publication.  There is, therefore, a positive incentive to update it, expand it, and fiddle with it ad nauseum.  (18 editions?  Really?  I don’t think that ideas in the citation format world evolve that quickly.  And I say this as someone who helped prepare an earlier version of the Bluebook.)  On Amazon, the Second Edition of Citing Medicine (used in the medical field) is only $3.00 for a Kindle edition.  Meanwhile, the Bluebook is over $30.

It’s really time for a new and simplified approach.

* Yes, Citing Medicine looks reasonably complicated, but probably less so than the Bluebook.

Anticompetitive Regulation in the Funeral Industry?

English: Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

National Public Radio (NPR) has the story.

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Miscellany: Computer Screens and Your Vision; IP and Ethics; Twitter Culture

Human eye. Español: Iris de un ojo humano. El ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A short list of miscellany for the weekend.

On the “Lawyerist” blog, Kate Battle suggests that backlit computer monitors really don’t cause eyestrain.  What does cause eyestrain is the fact that you tend to scroll text on the computer, so your eyes don’t move around much (and you often forget to blink).  This is a fundamentally different way to read than reading old-fashioned paper.

 On the IPKat blog, Neil Wilkof argues that some form of training in evaluating ethical matters may some day become a central part of IP.

Is Twitter’s influence on rhetorical style and culture good or bad?  Maybe both.  “The tweet is a literary form of Oulipian arbitrariness, and the straitjacket of the form has determined the schizophrenia of the content. A tweet is so short that you can get right to the point — but so short, also, that why should it have one? Twitter’s formal properties bend, simultaneously, in opposite directions: toward the essential but also the superfluous, the concise but also the verbose.”

ABA: Only 55% of Law Grads Found Full-Time Law Jobs

According to this news story in the National Law Journal, “[s]lightly more than half of the class of 2011 — 55 percent — found full-time, long-term jobs that require bar passage nine months after they graduated, according to employment figures released on June 18 by the American Bar Association.”

What’s to be done about this depressing statistic?  Now might be a good time for me to mention my prior post on “Competition Law, Policy and the Apparent Oversupply of Lawyers in the U.S.”  Competition policy and principles may have something relevant to say about this problem.

 

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16th Century European Competition Law vs. 21st Century Competition Law in Singapore

Today, it just so happens that we have an awesome (but coincidental) juxtaposition of historical views on competition law.

First, NPR’s “Planet Money” blog presented an episode on 16th Century European law (or quasi-law) on local guild monopolies in the form of an interview with Cambridge Professor Sheilagh Ogilvie.  (As an aside, from little I know, there is some disagreement about whether guilds actually impeded innovation, and if so, to what extent.)

Second (hat tip to the Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog for this one), Singapore’s Competition Commission has released a cartoon video explaining the dangers of price-fixing and how regulators can stop it.

Price Fixing

Singapore Competition Commission

The cartoon is priceless, and is a wonderful counterpoint to the medieval views discussed in the NPR piece.

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