“Standards of Proof in Civil Litigation: An Experiment from Patent Law” by David L. Schwartz (Chicago-Kent College of Law) and Christopher B. Seaman (Washington and Lee University School of Law)
I commented on this excellent paper at the 7th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper at Stanford yesterday (November 9, 2012). The authors ran an online experiment to try to parse out the effect of a recent U.S. Supreme Court case, Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Limited Partnership.
In i4i the Court held that a patent’s presumption of validity can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence, but, the Court also explained that the jury should be instructed that it may be easier to satisfy this standard when the party challenging the patent’s validity offered evidence that was not previously been considered by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
The experiment tested the same fact pattern on 500 respondents, assigning them into three groups. Each group was asked to apply a different standard of proof. The clear and convincing evidence standard resulted in far fewer findings of obviousness – no surprise there. But the authors main finding of interest was that a mock jury instruction directed by the i4i decision was not statistically different from the (lower) preponderance of the evidence standard explicitly rejected by the Court.
To try to understand this puzzling result, I took their data and produced some graphs to show the extent of disorder in the three experiment conditions. In the figures below, each bar is a single response. The more red on the image, the more respondents thought the patent in question was invalid due to being obvious in light of the prior art. If subjects were being consistent, all the red bars should be on the right and all black bars on the left.
[Updated and revised November 10, 2012]
I am pleased to be attending the In Re Books conference at New York Law School. The conference is dedicated to the future of the book. My presentation is available here: The Future of Orphan Works (October 27 2012).
I am in DC today at the Global Research Network on Copyright Flexibilities in National Legal Reform Meeting.
Copyright reform is under active discussion at the national level in numerous countries. The goal of the Global Research Network on Copyright Flexibilities in National Legal Reform is to produce draft language for a flexible limitation and exception that could be included in national legislation. We expect to offer this language, which may include more than one model provision, to legislators and civil society advocates in countries contemplating copyright reform. Additionally, we aim to develop an online “tool kit” to assist these deliberations.
On October 19, the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies is co-hosting a conference on Brands, Competition, and the Law along with University College London. This is the follow-up to a very successful program on the same theme in London in December 2011. A book with selected papers and comments from these conferences will be forthcoming.
We have assembled an all-star lineup of economists, marketing and branding professionals, as well as antitrust and IP lawyers and professors to try to reach a common understanding of the meaning and impact of brands in the market place and the appropriate legal regime. The full details and registration information for the conference are available at http://www.luc.edu/law/academics/special/center/antitrust/brands_competition_law.html.
The speakers include: Deven Desai, Kirsten Edwards-Warren, Phil Evans, Warren Grimes, Greg Gundlach, James Langenfeld, Ioannis Lianos, Deborah Majoras, Mark McKenna, John D. Mittelstaedt, John Noble, Barak Orbach, Joan Phillips, Matthew Sag, Eliot Schreiber, and Spencer Weber Waller.