Berkeley Informatics Lab

In This Section


Founded in 2013 under the auspices of the BCLT, the mission of the Berkeley Informatics Lab (BIL) is to foster advanced, interdisciplinary research and applications in law and computer science. Working with selected key partners throughout the University and Bay Area, the Lab is actively researching, creating, and distributing new legal technologies and frameworks to solve problems of national and global import.

The Lab’s mission is general—a horizontal application of computational knowledge that implicates every major area of law (and vice versa). Its projects are specific—applying new tools over hard data and legal text, to help people.


Intellectual property laws reward and thereby stimulate invention and creative productivity by conferring rights to constrain the activities of would-be competitors and users. Most simply, such laws create a tradeoff between competition and consumer surplus on the one hand, and innovation and creativity on the other.

Reality is more complex. No one knows the real cost/benefit ratios of our complex IP systems. How many jobs, dollars, and other benefits do they create? Are certain elements outweighed by their costs? Can procedural efficiency and transparency be improved without degrading benefits? Businesses, governments, labs, and courts invest trillions of dollars in IP and IP litigation, yet the payout from these activities remains essentially unknown. Without baseline data, corporations and innovators cannot hope to audit or optimize their individual IP strategies.

BIL will address these problems by creating an annual report to assess the net efficacy of key IP systems, including patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret/data rights. Extending the business metaphor, the report is addressed to a fictional “Chief Intellectual Property Officer” of the United States. It will leverage advanced technologies to create a simple picture of systemic performance. It will link certain creative activity and benefits to discrete policies, rights, litigation, and transactions. In short, it will track IP costs, benefits, and attribution. The CIPO Project will thereby seek to build a national platform for testing IP decisions at the “macro” (policy) and “micro” (individual/entity) levels.