March 2008 Entrepreneurship Symposium

Co-sponsored by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology (BCLT) and the Berkeley Technology Law Journal (BTLJ).

BCLT’s 12th Annual Symposium will explore the role of intellectual property – and patent law in particular – in promoting entrepreneurship and in providing incentives to entrepreneurs, bringing together speakers from a broad range of disciplines, including economics, law, business, and other fields. The panelists include distinguished professors, attorneys, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists who have been actively involved in the information technology, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and green technology sectors.

At the Symposium, BCLT will introduce its project on intellectual property and entrepreneurship, launched this year with the generous support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. We will discuss the current state of knowledge about the field of intellectual property and entrepreneurship, as well as our plans for empirical and theoretical research.

To that end, we will explore such questions as whether, when, and why entrepreneurs obtain patents, focusing on the role that patent rights play in decisions to invest in start-ups and how investors and entrepreneurs assess the scope and value of their own and other firms’ patent rights in the course of deciding which business opportunities to pursue. Furthermore, we will explore the challenges that entrepreneurs face when licensing or enforcing patents, looking at issues such as the effects of “patent trolls” on entrepreneurs and how patent thickets, standards, and the need to cross-license may present strong barriers to entry for entrepreneurs.

We plan to discuss the role patents play in an increasingly open and collaborative innovation environment, exploring the effects of patent rights on issues such as open source software, open standards, interoperability and employee mobility. Lastly, we will explore the timely question of whether entrepreneurs should care about patent reform initiatives.

This symposium is also being underwritten from a generous grant by the Microsoft Corporation.

10.5 units of MCLE credit will be available for attendees of the symposium.