Vanquishing Copyright Pirates and Patent Trolls: The Divergent Evolution of Copyright and Patent Laws


In the last decade copyright law has followed an almost linear path of increasing legal protections for copyright holders’ battle against digital piracy. By contrast, proposed changes in patent law are decidedly anti-patent holder due to efforts to battle patent trolls – companies that acquire and use patent portfolios to extract payoffs from technology companies. Patent law reform faces a far more contentious path and will likely lose several of its most significant provisions. This paper analyzes efforts to change the laws of copyright and patent using James Q. Wilson’s theory of regulation. With little concerted opposition, copyright law has been shaped by less contentious client politics. Patent law reform faces an interest-groups battle with powerful bio-medical and pharmaceutical companies opposed to many reform provisions. The analysis suggests that future changes to copyright law will be more difficult having to navigate the contentious interest-groups-battle path.


Intellectual Property Law | Internet Law | Law and Economics | Law and Politics

Date of this Version

March 2006