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Transatlantic Technology Law Forum


  • The aim of this research project is to study the impact of the recent U.S. Federal Court decision of 14 November 2013 in Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google Inc. on both European and American authors. It will examine the different copyright systems in the EU and the U.S. and re-examine the issue of whether Google Library's activities are protected as 'fair use' under § 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act. This research will cover the Google Book Settlement agreement (which was subsequently rejected by the court), explain how the recent decision represents an important victory for Google, and explore the reaction of European and American authors to it.

  • Vast amounts of user-generated content (UGC) are uploaded to different online services every minute. Yet most users are unaware that the Terms of Service agreements offered by all the major companies include an intellectual property licensing clause, often giving platform providers a sweeping license over user content. The contractual language is so vague that it is unclear what kind of copyright license has been given, for which purpose, to whom it may be extended, or how long it will last.  This research project will focus on the interaction of mass-scale contractual licensing clauses with applicable national laws. 

  • This project explores the impact that overlapping intellectual property rights on the same products (or on separate components of the same products) may have on the application of the principle of intellectual property exhaustion to parallel imports across, respectively, member countries of the EU (EEA) and NAFTA. In particular, this project criticizes how the exercise of overlapping intellectual property rights can be used by intellectual property owners in order to restrict free trade in free trade areas, both in brick-and-mortar world as well as online trade, especially with respect to physical products that are purchased online in one country and shipped and delivered in another country of the same free trade area.

  • The European Union E-Commerce Law Project is co-sponsored by the Stanford-Vienna Transatlantic Technology Law Forum, the Stanford Center for E-Commerce, and the Forum on Contemporary Europe (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies).

    This project examines the law and policy of the European Union regarding online businesses as well as the relevant economic governance issues and regulatory practices affecting the online transatlantic (EU-U.S.)marketplace.

  • TTLF's Transatlantic Intellectual Property Law Project examines the law and policy of the European Union and of other relevant European and international regimes regarding intellectual property rights and their effects on innovation, competition and economic growth. Particular attention will be given to economic and knowledge-based governance issues and regulatory practices affecting the transatlantic marketplace, as well as on comparative research on European and U.S. IP law and policy issues.

  • The main aim of this research project is to investigate how the U.S. and Europe are dealing with nanotechnology applied to the world of medical science and the intellectual property which might originate from this new field of science and technology. Valuation methods of this technology, both in the U.S. and Europe, will be dealt with as well as the ways to raise funds through the securitization of intellectual property in the field of nanomedicine. 

  • As a result of the omnipresent worldwide use of computers and of computer software products in practically all business sectors as well as in many (either off or on-line) social or private activities of individuals (consumers), it is clear that software contracts have become an integral part of the life of millions of companies and people. It may even be argued that software contracts constitute the most widely used type of contract in our information economy.

  • Technological convergence has had transformative effects in the television sector. The development of alternative means of transmission, such as satellite, cable, ADSL or Fibre, brings about new challenges unforeseen in legacy sector-specific regulation.

  • Nanotechnology is a multifaceted sector which is gaining greater importance day after day. Many products incorporating or made through nanotechnology applications are already on the market, and the common opinion surrounding this technology is that future applications and products will range from advanced materials science to medicine, defense, electronics, coating and so forth.

  • Over the past ten years, Internet intermediaries’ liability for user-generated content has been one of the most burning issues facing Intellectual Property courts in Europe and in the United States. Although the relevant legal frameworks are quite similar on both continents, their application by the U.S. courts and by some European jurisdictions has been substantially different. In particular, some national courts in the EU have found Internet intermediaries liable for trademark and copyright infringements in relation to user-generated content several times over the past ten years.

  • There is little disagreement in the EU and the U.S. about information security (often also referred to as cybersecurity) being an increasingly important issue warranting some extent of regulatory intervention. The regulatory approaches chosen so far in the EU and the U.S. have either (1) required the implementation of security measures; (2) imposed or limited liability for security breaches; (3) imposed criminal sanctions for malicious actors; or (4) mandated the disclosure of security breaches to allow the individuals concerned to take reactive measures.

    This paper will show that all these approaches implemented in EU and U.S. law fail to address the problem of information asymmetry. The research in the area of economics of information security has long established that information asymmetry is a fundamental obstacle to any significant improvements.

  • The purpose of the research is to investigate the business and legal rationale driving (or preventing) EU privacy compliance for different types of Internet companies (according to their respective business models and dimensions). The research project involves an empirical analysis of the business consequences of the EU privacy regulation in the consumer-Internet industry.

  • Is it true that “patent trolls” are primarily a U.S. phenomenon? Over time, several definitions of “patent trolls” have been presented. In its most pejorative sense, this term refers to non-practicing entities whose exclusive business is asserting patents claims and, in so doing, extracting value from companies operating in certain industries. Patent trolls are a relatively new phenomenon. Studies have shown, for example, that their activity became prominent in the U.S. during the last decade. These studies also seem to indicate that patent trolls are not nearly as active in other countries, namely the EU, as they are in the U.S.

  • For traditional media, such as novels, copyright represents a “bargain” between the individual author and the general public: the author has an exclusive right to make and sell copies, but anyone can look at the novel, learn from its ideas, and use those ideas as a stimulus for the creation and a reward for the publication of new works. However, computer code by its unique nature, to wit, its invisibility, its not readily accessibility, makes it a quite unconventional subject matter for enjoying copyright protection all around the world.

  • Recently, a market for so-called "second-hand software" has emerged in Europe, particularly in Germany. The business model of second-hand software retailers is to purchase all licenses or individual unbundled component-licenses originating from a volume software package from insolvent or downsizing companies and make those licenses available to third parties at discount prices below the prices of any reseller authorized by the software copyright owner. Possibly as a consequence of the upheaval in the financial markets, second-hand licensing has proven to be an issue of legal and practical interest not only in Europe but also around the world. Although the concept of the new business model is economically sound, the legal implications have not yet been settled by either U.S. or EU copyright laws. 

  • Over the past few decades there has been a common understanding that general competition rules would not be sufficient per se to maintain a diverse and pluralistic media industry. Media concentration was seen as a threat to democracy, and a far-reaching sector-specific regulatory framework was put in place to guarantee media plurality and a free and diverse communications landscape. An example of such sector-specific regulation would be ownership prohibitions both within and across traditionally distinct media, such as restrictions on common ownership of broadcasting and newspapers, or telephone and cable.

  • The advent of Information and Communication Technologies has triggered a new and fierce debate on how democratic societies may best safeguard and preserve the free and indiscriminate flow of information to citizens in the 21st century. The Internet as a communicative and informative tool permeates every layer of society. At the same time, the Internet has become a global public forum for economic growth and innovation. The Internet’s enormous economic and societal significance raises the stakes with regard to the question of how, if at all, it should best be regulated. In this context, the Net Neutrality principle can be considered the single most pressing regulatory issue to be addressed in the near and midterm future in both the United States and the European Union. 

  • The increase in competition that has resulted from a progressive opening up of telecommunications markets in the US and the EU has assumed advantages for consumers. The existence of a choice of operators has increased price competition, which has generally resulted in lower prices. Nonetheless, the benefits of enhanced competition in downstream markets may be jeopardized if a former monopolist supplies an input for its competitors at the upstream level. It may choose to charge competitors a higher price for that input, and this may have a knock-on impact on the price of the products offered in competitive downstream markets, as it may prevent competitors from achieving the desired profit. This practice is known as “margin squeezes”.

  • The transatlantic quest for the best promotional policy for renewable energy technologies – sometimes referred to as the “race to renewables” – has received much attention in the engineering and economic literature. A whole phalanx of studies discusses the technological feasibility of a timely transition to renewables. Economists offer a multitude of indicators and models designed to assess and compare the efficiency of competing policies and strands of renewable energy technologies. In contrast, the transatlantic potpourri of promotional policies has thus far illicited relatively little attention in the legal literature, especially among comparativists.

  • A patent confers on its holder (the patentee) the privilege to exclude a non-authorized party from using the technology invented by the patentee and protected by the patent. That said, a patent is only valuable if it is enforceable. Germany, Japan und the U.S. are the most important and arguably the most advanced jurisdictions, when it comes to patent right protections. Given the long industrial history of these nations who were the largest economies during the latter half of the twentieth century, a tendency to recognize a strong need for protection of innovations and inventions seems only logical. Germany, Japan and the U.S. have made substantial efforts to develop an efficient system of patent enforcement.

  • A patent confers on its holder the right to exclude others from the use of the invention protected by the patent. During the modern history of patent law, a patentee’s claim for permanent injunctive action has therefore been widely perceived as the logical consequence of a patent infringement. Such understanding changed fundamentally in the U.S., when the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the matter eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange, LLC (547 U.S. 388 (2006)).

  • Research and development are key elements of a competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy. Patents, in particular, are a driving force for promoting innovation and growth. At the 2007 Summit in Washington, the EU and U.S. emphasized their joint goal to strengthen the transatlantic economic partnership including a strong focus on Intellectual Property Rights. Transatlantic trade barriers and unnecessary differences between the regulatory systems of the U.S. and Europe shall be eliminated or at least reduced.

  • For more than a century the territoriality of intellectual property rights (IPRs) seemed to be an axiom, with patent law as its most prominent example. As a matter of fact, however, the respective laws never were applied strictly territorially. From the outset, the territorial restriction imposed on IPRs created loopholes for possible infringers, thereby leading legislators and courts to extend the reach of IP laws beyond their national borders every now and then. With the realities of global commerce and borderless high-technology as exemplified in particular by the Internet, telecommunications and distributed computing, the number of cases raising the issue of extraterritoriality in IP law has skyrocketed. The occurrence of domestic IP rights infringing behavior outside of the respective national boundaries has become the rule and increasingly contrasts with the territorial view of domestic IP laws.

  • Ensuring that the commercial objectives and the economic benefits of standard setting cooperation are realized requires that, in particular, two potential problems are addressed: first, the risk that essential IPRs are used to hold up those implementing the standard, and second, the problem that the aggregate royalties of the complementary essential IPRs reach a supra-optimal level.

  • Parties to licensing agreements often agree on the licensor’s rights to the licensee’s future improvements and new applications, whether through explicit grantback obligations or through cross-licensing agreements or non-assertion clauses that also cover the licensee’s future intellectual property rights. Such agreements can be used, for instance, to prevent licensee hold-up, keep the licensor’s technology competitive, or better allocate risk among the parties.

  • In the landmark case of UsedSoft GmbH v. Oracle International Corp. (C-128/11), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has held that the re-sale of "used" software does not violate E.U. copyright law even if the software was not initially purchased on a tangible medium such as a CD but downloaded from the software manufacturer's website. The same principles are likely to apply to other categories of copyrighted works. If the ECJ's interpretation of the first sale doctrine is applied generally, the exhaustion of the distribution right to any copyrighted work would occur at the point where a copy of a work is downloaded in exchange for remuneration and the user is given the right to use the downloaded copy for an unlimited period. Since neither a sale—strictly speaking—nor the transfer of title in a material object is required, through a new “First-Download Doctrine”, the first-sale doctrine has effectively been extended by the ECJ, and this may eventually enable the development of a large second-hand market in electronic copies of copyrighted works such as movies, ebooks, or songs.

  • The nanotechnology industry is a fast growing industry with many unique characteristics. When bringing the results of nanotechnology research to market, companies and universities run into unforeseen problems related to intellectual property rights and other legal and regulatory issues. An effective commercialization of the results of research requires basic knowledge of the relevant issues and a well-defined strategy. Even the most impressive scientific achievements can become a commercial failure due to a lack of understanding of, and the absence of a strategy relating to, the legal and regulatory issues surrounding the commercialization of a technology. This research addresses all these issues from the view of managers and scientists interested in an effective commercialization of nanotechnology innovations.

  • Industries in the utility sector, e.g. energy, transport, communications and water, are often described as regulated networks or network industries because of their dependence on some kind of physical distribution network. In both the European Union and the United States, the organisation of network industries has undergone significant changes in the past three decades. Most of these network industries have moved from vertically integrated monopolies to liberalisation. With the liberalisation of these formerly monopolistic markets, competition has become an issue. However, these networks are still regulated to a certain extent due to their importance. Therefore it is important to determine the role of antitrust law in these industries.

  • Technological innovation and the transfer of the resulting intellectual property rights are indispensable to the economies of the European Union and the United States. Consequently, the antitrust treatment of IP licensing has gained increased significance. Currently, technology transfer is a fundamental incentive to innovation, enabling those who undertake major investments in research and development to achieve optimal financial gain from their goods and services. However, these transactions are likely to raise antitrust issues and may involve enforcement agencies and judicial bodies in Europe and the United States.

  • This research looks at an emerging question in the context of online activities: whether the processing of personal data by online businesses with market power may give rise to potentially anticompetitive conduct under EU and U.S. competition laws.

  • The aim of this research project is to analyze the antitrust standards applicable to patent settlements in the EU and in the U.S. and to identify similarities and differences in the situations that are most likely to raise antitrust issues.

  • Biodiesel, ethanol and other so-called "second generation" renewable fuels can be a viable alternative to fossil fuels, thus reducing or altogether eliminating dependence on them. Accordingly, on both sides of the Atlantic, substantial time and resources have been invested in the creation and implementation of programs that encourage the research and development of renewable fuels.

  • Trade secrets are usually treated with other intellectual property rights because the object of the property right protection may be the result of an intellectual activity. However, trade secrets do not belong to any of the currently existing intellectual property rights. Indeed, copyright law does not protect ideas, while patent law delimits the legal monopoly granted on the invention disclosed. Trade secrets exist because either no intellectual property rights apply or the scope of protection is not sufficiently satisfactory. Trade secrets, in the grey area of intellectual property law, are at the interface of different legal mechanisms which could be used to protect the object of the secret.

  • Before social media sites became mainstream, only a happy few were able to boast that their image had commercial value. But now the likeness of every web user, of every consumer, may have commercial value. Advertising is becoming more and more social, and data is gold. Indeed, all the personal data we publish online allow marketers to provide us with finely targeted advertisements.

  • While freedom of speech is the general rule in the U.S. and in the European Union (I), there are nevertheless exceptions to this freedom on both sides of the Atlantic (II). Some of these national exceptions aim at preventing hate speech, defamation, or threats, while others aim at preventing speech which is considered in other countries as the mere expression of an opinion, albeit unsavory, but nevertheless legal. Social media sites allow the rapid spread of all speech, whether protected or not, and such messages spread around the world, and sometimes stir people into action. Social media played an important role in the Arab Spring, the London riots, and the Occupy Wall Street movements. But while the web links us all, each country nevertheless retains its own legal framework, and may or may not view a particular speech, such a blasphemy or lèse majesté, as legal.

  • Intellectual property rights (IPRs), as an important element in technology transfer and production, play a key role in international investment. It is generally agreed that the strength or weakness of a state’s system of intellectual property protection has a substantial effect on the kinds of technology transferred to that country. Strong and effective protection of IPR is therefore an important factor in an investment decision taken by internationally operating corporations. This is particularly crucial in the IP sensitive area of high technology. 

  • The current project will look into the liberalization of trade in technology-related services in the EU and the US through the angle of regulatory challenges and data openness. In particular, the research will examine how the mechanisms of trade liberalization work in the two continents, and what are the ensuing steps towards removing barriers in trade. The project will use the OECD STRI index as the primary tool of quantitative analysis in order to explore the current policy formations and suggest further reforms.

  • The development of modern economies does critically depend on the existence and smooth functioning of the credit market. Access to credit and funding sources in reasonable conditions determine survival possibilities of projects, initiatives and businesses and delimit their growth opportunities. Recent periods of crisis and economic turmoil have appreciably debilitated the financing muscle in our economies. Accordingly, credit facilities have been dramatically limited. In such a context, the search for alternative-financing sources has become a priority need for social, business, research or cultural projects. Crowdfunding emerges as an encouraging alternative to traditional funding sources able to promote, boost and support a variety of projects.