In the News


Robert Merges in the news:



Trade commission orders ban on some Samsung products

Robert Merges quoted in The New York Times, Bits blog, August 9, 2013

Friday’s order to ban Samsung’s products does not involve standards-essential patents. But Robert P. Merges … said it was possible the administration would overturn Friday’s decision as part of a broader move to diminish the power of patent litigation as an industry weapon.


Patent case has potential to give Apple the upper hand

Robert Merges quoted in The New York Times, August 8, 2013

If the commission hands Apple another victory, Robert P. Merges … said the Obama administration could again overrule any import ban the commission puts in place, as part of a strategy to diminish the power of patent litigation as an industry weapon. “I think there are a lot of political implications,” he said, referring to the possible reaction by other governments. “You’ll have the obvious favoring-the-home-team problem. But I would be shocked if they didn’t think this through carefully.”


Cal’s Berkeley Law tops Stanford Law for most-wanted IP law grads

Robert Merges quoted in Silicon Valley Business Journal, March 13, 2013

“I think the reason that employers are so keen on our graduates is that we have such a comprehensive program, which means that when our students graduate, they are at a level which usually takes law firm associates several years to achieve,” said Merges…. “They start the race a lap or so ahead, and that is because we start exposing our students to IP during their first year of law school, and they can take advance classes in their second year to advanced seminars in their third year.”


Justifying IP—putting the horse before Descartes

Robert Merges writes for PrawfsBlawg, January 30, 2013

We do not know whether IP law is net social welfare positive. Yet many of us feel strongly that this body of law, this social and legal institution, has a place in a well-functioning society. Now, we can say the data are not all in yet, but we nevertheless should maintain our IP system on the hope that someday we will have adequate data to justify it.


Consumers likely to feel impact of Apple defeat of Samsung

Robert Merges quoted in USA Today, August 27, 2012

“The smart money is going to say this is the end of Act One, we’ve teed it up for the federal circuit, and we’ll see what’s on for Act Two,” says Robert Merges of Boalt Law School at the University of California, Berkeley…. “The bottom line is (that Apple has) shown the world that they are going to use these patents, and you better keep a wide berth, or get out of the mobile market.”


A verdict that alters an industry

Robert Barr and Robert Merges quoted in The New York Times, August 24, 2012

Robert Barr, executive director of the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Law and Technology, said that the user interface — the icons and other features that users see and touch — of the Nokia Windows phones look distinctly different from the iPhone. Nokia, a longtime maker of phones, also has a thick portfolio of patents to protect itself.

While Google is not involved in this case, Apple was clearly going after Android all along, said Robert P. Merges, professor of law and technology at University of California Berkeley School of Law…. “There are a lot more players in the Android world who could be involved in the future in litigation,” he said. “And it’s going to raise the cost of everyone in the Android system if the damages stick.”


CEOs of Oracle, Google square off in court over Java

Robert Merges quoted in Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2012

UC Berkeley law professor Robert Merges said Oracle is looking to cut itself into the lucrative smartphone market with the Java technology that Sun Microsystems created in the mid-1990s to write programs that work on different operating systems and devices. “People have been whispering for years that Google has built a great business on other people’s technology,” Merges said. “But Larry Ellison doesn’t beat around the bush. He has never minded stepping onto center stage.”


Twitter pledges to limit use of patents in lawsuits

Robert Merges quoted in Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2012

“Sun was fairly altruistic in their views about intellectual property assertion and ownership. Some people will see it as a sad day that the Java system built by people who wanted to have it used very widely and weren’t thinking about monetizing it has now become a big fat corporate asset,” UC Berkeley law professor Robert Merges said.

Twitter pledges to limit use of patents in lawsuits
Robert Merges
quoted in Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2012
“Sun was fairly altruistic in their views about intellectual property assertion and ownership. Some people will see it as a sad day that the Java system built by people who wanted to have it used very widely and weren’t thinking about monetizing it has now become a big fat corporate asset,” UC Berkeley law professor Robert Merges said.

Robert Merges Writes Justifying Intellectual Property

Concurring Opinions blog, December 9, 2011 by Gordon Hull
http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2011/12/book-review-mergess-justifying-intellectual-property.html#more-54238
<http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2011/12/book-review-mergess-justifying-intellectual-property.html%23more-54238>

“I disagree with the general thesis that property rights over information are a bad idea or that IP has mutated into a gargantuan, monstrous parody of its traditional moderate form.  In an economy where intangible assets are more valuable than ever, IP is more important than ever.”


Robert Merges Writes New Book, Justifying Intellectual Property

Patently-O, October 14, 2011 by Dennis Crouch
http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2011/10/merges-justifying-intellectual-property.html

Merges believes that utilitarianism is important to intellectual property…. As Merges writes in his introduction “[m]aximizing utility, I have come to see, is not a serviceable first-order principle of the IP system. It is just not what IP is really all about at the deepest level.”


Robert Merges, Pamela Samuelson Support First-to-File Patent Law

AllBusiness, September 19, 2011 by Don Sadler
http://www.allbusiness.com/finance/legal/16680947-1.html

Robert Merges, a professor of law at University of California, Berkeley, noted in a San Francisco Chronicle article that this provision gives inventors one year to hone their inventions after disclosure.

Pamela Samuelson, the director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Law and Technology, agreed: “The ‘little guy’ inventor story that this rule favors big firms is really a myth.”


Robert Merges Explains Legal Strategy Behind Google’s Motorola Bid

-Chicago Tribune, August 16, 2011 by Ameet Sachdev
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-0816-motorola-phone-patents–20110816,0,6973280.story

“It’s an escalation of the patent wars,” said Robert Merges, director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at the University of California at Berkeley. “Google is raising the stakes.”

-Chicago Tribune, August 16, 2011 by Wailin Wong
http://bit.ly/puNXuY

“If you’re an employee or somebody hoping Motorola stays in the game and stays as a corporate presence, this may not be good news for you,” Merges said.


Robert Merges, Pamela Samuelson Clarify Patent Study Results

Patently-O, August 5, 2011 by Robert Merges, Pam Samuelson, and Ted Sichelman
http://bit.ly/mZ95cm

First, our study only applies to U.S. startup companies. Second, many executives—particularly those in the biotechnology and medical device industries—reported that patents provide strong or moderate incentives to innovate. In the very least, prompt patent grants for these companies would not be “irrelevant” to stimulating innovation. Last, our responses on the role of patents in the innovation process relates to the patent system as it is currently constituted.


Robert Merges, Pamela Samuelson Discuss Patent Survey Findings

-Patently-O, July 19, 2011 by Robert Merges, Pam Samuelson, and Ted Sichelman
http://bit.ly/dc4GOo

The 2008 Berkeley Patent Survey has found that startups are patenting more than previous studies have suggested; that patents are being sought for a variety of reasons, the most prominent of which is to prevent copying of the innovation; and that there are considerable differences among startups in the perceived significance of patents for attaining competitive advantage, with biotech companies rating them as the most important strategy and software companies rating them least important.

-Patently-O, July 20, 2011 by Robert Merges, Pam Samuelson, and Ted Sichelman
http://bit.ly/bmJ4nB

Biotechnology companies report that patents provide closer to a “moderate” than a “strong” incentive to engage in the innovation process. Among software companies, the results are even more striking, with them reporting that patents provide less than a “slight” incentive. These findings raise questions about the importance of patents to innovation for entrepreneurs and startups. Indeed, the results have spurred some vigorous debate in the blogosphere.

-Patently-O, July 21, 2011 by Robert Merges, Pam Samuelson, and Ted Sichelman
http://bit.ly/blIB2W

One possible interpretation is that startup executives are generally unaware of the link between patents and success in the innovative process, which results in financial markets selecting those companies that patent more heavily. Another interpretation is that patents serve important functions not related to the innovation process, such as helping to prevent infringement lawsuits, providing leverage in cross-licensing negotiations, and acting as “signals” of firm competency, which drive investment.


Robert Merges Explains Why Rivals Compete for Nortel Patents

The Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2011 by Peg Brickley
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304778304576375832688371692.html

The sheer size of Nortel’s portfolio expands the strategic options for buyers, said Robert Merges…. “The way this game is played, someone throws a stack of patents on the table, and someone else throws a stack on the table and the one with the shortest stack comes out on the losing end,” Mr. Merges said.


Robert Merges Endorses Patent Reform Bill

The Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2011 by Jess Bravin
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304259304576375451677652800.html

A patent overhaul bill … permits third parties to challenge patents, even after they are granted, through administrative proceedings at the Patent and Trademark Office. Robert Merges … said the challenge provision in the bill “just became a little more important” in light of the high court’s ruling. “It’s a cheaper alternative to litigation, and some people think it’s a better forum for trying to invalidate patents,” he said.


Robert Merges Analyzes Google’s Bid for Nortel Patents

The New York Times, April 4, 2011 by Claire Cain Miller
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/05/technology/05google.html?scp=3&sq=Berkeley&st=nyt

“Google is basically buying legitimacy and buying a foothold in one part of the cellphone market,” said Robert P. Merges, director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley.


Robert Merges, Pamela Samuelson Argue for First-to-File Patent Law

San Francisco Chronicle, March 9, 2011 by Carolyn Lochhead
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/09/MNQ01I6D0G.DTL

UC Berkeley law Professor Robert Merges said concerns among small inventors are wildly overblown. They would be able to file placeholder applications and have a year to hone their inventions, he said.

Pamela Samuelson … said in an e-mail that the United States and the Philippines are the only nations that have first-to-invent systems. “The international norm is that the first inventor to file gets a patent,” Samuelson said. “The economic arguments in favor of the first-to-file system are strong and the ‘little guy’ inventor story that this rule favors big firms is really a myth.”


Robert Merges Sees Economic Benefit in Parody Defense

American University Intellectual Property Brief, November 25, 2010 by Caroline Gousse
http://bit.ly/hjSOd8

US legal scholars have seen an economic justification in the admission of a parody defense. Robert P. Merges, for example, assumes that the parody defense should be admitted when “there is a clear market failure for parody licenses.”


Robert Merges Comments on Oracle Copyright Victory Against SAP

The New York Times, November 23, 2010 by Verne G. Kopytoff
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/business/24oracle.html

“This is pretty dramatic,” said Robert P. Merges, a technology law professor at University of California, Berkeley. He said it sent a loud message to companies to pay attention to any signs of copyright infringement. “It’s a game-ending home run type of result. It will tell people ‘Hey, we need to be careful.’”