The Searle Conference at the Northwestern University in Chicago was a phenomenal event. I was very thrilled to be invited as a discussant for two exceptional papers on licensing and incentives for innovation. It was a pleasure to represent our Chair together with my fellow colleague Annika Lorenz.
The rather small conference in terms of presented papers was of exceptional quality as all presented papers where eligible for a special issue of the JEMS. The presenters were highly recognized researchers and a few PhD students. Among the group of discussants who did not present their own work on the conference were only very dedicated persons including a few PhD students like Annika and me.
It was a great honor for me to be the discussant of two very excellent papers. The first paper has been written by Georg von Graevenitz currently at the Unversity of East Anglia and Ralph Siebert from Purdue University. The paper, which can be found here, is about the role of licensing in cutting through the patent thicket and really worth a read. The authors argue in a very convincing way that ex ante licensing prevents patent thickets while ex post licensing is a tool for resolving existent patent thickets. The second paper I discussed is by Ron Katznelson, Bi-Level Technologies, and John Howells, Aarhus University. The authors demonstrate the case of Edison’s incandescent lamp patent and confute the common perception that path breaking patents necessarily inhibit downstream innovations. This paper marks an important step in innovation research as it presents first empirical descriptive evidence for the positive role of patents for sequential innovation.
Further topics of the presentations varied from the effect of patent pools on competition to intercultural teams and innovation. The conference indeed was a great place to learn from excellent research in terms of methodology and constructive critique. Furthermore, it provided a perfect opportunity to meet new people and old friends. The keynote speeches by James E. Malackowski, Chairman and CEO of Ocean Tomo on “The Evolving IP Market: What’s Happening Now and What Can We Expect Next” and Stuart Graham, chief economist of the USPTO on “Economics at the USPTO” gave the opportunity to even learn something new during lunch and dinner while enjoying great food.
For me the conference was an important step career wise as well as for my personal educational development. Being invited as a discussant to this conference has been both, a challenge and a privilege. Because of the open, friendly and appreciative discussions I had with the authors after my presentation, I am confident that I have made a difference as discussant.