Looking forward to hear Professor Peter Lee’s (UC Davis) talk on “Innovation and the Firm: Vertical Integration in Patent-Intensive Industries” at the University of Copenhagen on Friday, Friday, September 8th 2017 from 10:00 – 12:00. If you are interested to join, please register here.
Abstract of Professor Lee’s talk:
Recent scholarship has highlighted the prevalence of vertical disintegration in high-technology industries, whereby distinct, specialized entities along a value chain transfer intellectual assets between them. Patents play an important role in vertical disintegration, for they lower the cost of technology transactions between upstream suppliers and downstream users.
This presentation, however, draws on empirical accounts to explore the peculiar persistence of vertical integration in patent-intensive fields. In biopharmaceuticals, agricultural biotechnology, and information technology, firms are increasingly acquiring technology providers rather than simply licensing their patents. This dynamic is even evident to a certain extent in university-industry technology transfer, where universities and commercializing firms frequently engage in institutional meshing to transfer patented technologies.
Professor Lee argues that the knowledge requirements of bundling together and exploiting complementary assets—particularly the need to obtain patent-related tacit knowledge—significantly drives firms to acquire entire companies rather than simply license their patents. Notwithstanding the existence of a patent, firms need the tacit, personal knowledge of the inventive entity to develop and commercialize a new technology. Relatedly, the desire to obtain not just a technological asset but innovative capacity, in the form of talented engineers and scientists, also motivates vertical integration. Finally, business imperatives favoring rapid scale and scope as well as internalization of profits also lead firms to acquire other companies rather than contract with independent suppliers and distributors. The result, contrary to theory, is a resurgence of vertical integration, which significantly impacts the industrial organization of several high-tech fields. Professor Lee will conclude by evaluating the costs and benefits of vertically integrated innovative industries, suggesting private and public mechanisms for improving integration and tempering its excesses.
Peter Lee teaches and writes in the areas of patent law, innovation, and technology transfer. His current scholarship explores the institutional context of innovation as well as the intersection of intellectual property law and academic science. His recent works have appeared in The Yale Law Journal, California Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Michigan Law Review, and other leading journals. Professor Lee has received numerous awards for his scholarly work, including the UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellowship, the Samsung-Stanford Patent Prize, and inclusion in West/Thomson’s annual Intellectual Property Law Review. He has served as a Visiting Scholar at Melbourne Law School and speaks widely on intellectual property matters in the United States and abroad.
Professor Lee received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, where he studied the history and philosophy of science. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was a member of The Yale Law Journal. Professor Lee joined the UC Davis faculty after clerking for Judge Barry G. Silverman of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.