Kobayashi & Wright on Antitrust Limits, Federalism and Patent Holdup

Josh Wright —  16 June 2008

I’ve posted to SSRN my new article (co-authored by my colleague Bruce Kobayashi), Federalism, Substantive Preemption, and Limits on Antitrust: An Application to Patent Holdup. We presented an earlier version of our analysis at the George Mason/ Microsoft Conference on the Law and Economics of Innovation and benefited significantly from comments from the discussants and participants. We take an approach grounded in the economics of federalism and recent Supreme Court antitrust jurisprudence in arguing for substantive limits on antitrust enforcement of patent holdup in favor of reliance on patent law as well as state common law. Along the way we discuss recent cases and enforcement actions involving patent holdup, including the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Rambus, Broadcom, and N-Data. If you’re a reader interested in patent holdup and related issues, please give the paper a read. Comments welcome (here or email me).

Here is the abstract:

In Credit Suisse v. Billing, the Court held that the securities law implicitly precludes the application of the antitrust laws to the conduct alleged in that case. The Court considered several factors, including the availability and competence of other laws to regulate unwanted behavior, and the potential that application of the antitrust laws would result in unusually serious mistakes. This paper examines whether similar considerations suggest restraint when applying the antitrust laws to conduct that is normally regulated by state and other federal laws. In particular, we examine the use of the antitrust laws to regulate the problem of patent hold up of members of standard setting organizations. While some have suggested that this conduct illustrates a gap in the current enforcement of the antitrust laws, our analysis finds that such conduct would be better evaluated under the federal patent laws and state contract laws.

Check it out.