Francis Fay (Europäische Kommission DG Agri) spricht beim GI-Workshop im Max-Planck-Institut für Innovation und Wettbewerb
Event Report  |  04/03/2020

GI-Workshop - Two Days in the Sign of Geographical Indications

Since many effects of the protection of Geographical Indications have not been sufficiently researched, the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition last year founded a research group to analyze the GI system within the EU and beyond. The researchers organized a workshop to present their preliminary research findings and to exchange views with international experts.

Francis Fay (European Commission DG Agri) speaks during the GI-Workshop at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition
Francis Fay from the European Commission explains the EU policy on GIs during the Workshop

Geographical Indications (GIs) are designations for products from a geographical area that owe their quality or reputation to their geographical origin. In the European Union, they are protected as Intellectual Property rights by an independent legal system. Since they are also an instrument of agricultural policy to promote production and living conditions in rural areas, there are many differences with other fields of IP rights. Specificities also arise from the fact that the first and often most important phase of the granting of rights takes place before national authorities, whereby national traditions and idiosyncrasies could impair the desired uniformity of protection.

Since there has been little legal research on GIs - despite increased attention to the subject from politics and the economy - the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition launched a research project at the beginning of last year to analyze the GI system within the EU and beyond. On 13 and 14 February, the Institute hosted a workshop on GIs in which international experts from academia and practice, as well as representatives of authorities from the EU and some member states, took part. During the workshop, the Institute's researchers were able to present their preliminary research results and discuss with the participants.

Geographical Indications in the EU

To start the workshop, project coordinator Andrea Zappalaglio explained the aims and structure of the project; he presented the results of the evaluation and empirical analysis of the protection parameters summarized in the specifications for GIs registered in the EU database DOOR (Database of Origin & Registration). In this database, managed by the EU Commission, all registered agricultural products and foodstuffs are published.

Afterwards, representatives of the EU Commission provided insights into the work and plans of the new Commission. Francis Fay, head of the unit responsible for GIs in the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG Agri), and Valerie Dufour from DG Agri explained the Commission's current audit practice and the EU policy on GIs and discussed with the participants the challenges and options for optimizing the system. Marie D'Avigneau and Malwina Mejer from the Directorate-General for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG Grow) reported on the status of work on creating protection of GIs for non-agricultural products.

On the second day of the workshop, the Max Planck research team first presented the preliminary results of a comparative analysis of the national procedures under which GI applications are examined in the member states. Alexander von Mühlendahl, lawyer at the Munich law firm Bardehle Pagenberg and Visiting Professor at Queen Mary University in London, and Elisa Zaera Cuadrado from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) then explained the relationship between trademarks and GIs in EU law and the examination practice of the EUIPO. Pilar Montero from the University of Alicante spoke about the scope of protection of GIs, which has developed from EU law and the case law of the European Court of Justice.

GIs from an international perspective

In the morning’s second session, the workshop focused on the international perspective. Roxana Blasetti from the University of Buenos Aires, who is a Visiting Scientist at the Institute, presented the negotiated solution for the mutual protection of GIs of the contracting parties in the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries.

Subsequently, Max Planck researchers Suelen Carls and Pedro Batista gave an overview of the Institute's project "Smart IP for Latin America" and explained the research activities related to the component of the project devoted to examining the protection of GIs in selected Latin American countries. In the final talk, Alexandra Grazioli, Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), spoke about opportunities and challenges for the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications administered by WIPO following the entry into force of the Geneva Act on 26 February 2020.

The workshop ended with an intensive discussion in the afternoon of the second day, moderated by Max Planck researcher Annette Kur. The valuable feedback from the participants gave the Institute's research group important impulses for their further work. After the empirical analysis of the GIs registered in the EU, the project will focus on the functioning of the national authorities involved in the protection system and on the cooperation between them, the applicants and the EU Commission. Based on these empirical findings, an analysis of selected legal questions will follow.

People  |  03/03/2020

Professorship for Digital Transformation at the University of the Bundeswehr Munich for Frank Mueller-Langer

Frank Mueller-Langer, Affiliated Research Fellow at the Institute, is now Professor at the Department of Business Administration at the University of the Bundeswehr Munich. His teaching and research focuses on the effects of digital transformation on firms, markets and the society.

Frank Mueller-Langer. Photo: UniBw

Frank Mueller-Langer’s main research areas are Digital Economy, Economics of Innovation and Data Economics.

Prior to his appointment to the University of the Bundeswehr Munich, Frank Mueller-Langer worked as an economist at the Joint Research Centre of the EU Commission (Digital Economy Unit) in Seville and Senior Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Department Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research headed by Dietmar Harhoff. Frank Mueller-Langer was a Visiting Researcher at the renowned US universities UC Berkeley and Columbia as well as at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Today, Frank Mueller-Langer continues to be closely associated with the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition as an Affiliated Research Fellow.

Frank Mueller-Langer is the author of numerous articles in renowned international journals. His works cover a broad range of topics and have received several international awards and funding, e.g., from the Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues (Best Paper Award) as well as the Sloan Foundation, the Tilburg Law and Economics Center, and the German Research Foundation. He is currently working on a study on gender wage gaps in online labour markets.

More information:

Information of the University of the Bundeswehr Munich

Personal webpage of Frank Mueller-Langer

Most recent publication of Frank Mueller-Langer

10. GWB-Novelle: Vortrag von Dr. Thorsten Käseberg zum GWB-Digitalisierungsgesetz
Event Report  |  02/20/2020

10th Amendment to the GWB: New Instruments for a Competition Policy in the Digital Age

The 10th amendment to the GWB (German Competition Act), which is called “GWB Digitization Act”, seeks to adapt the German competition law to the requirements of the modern platform economy. In a presentation at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition co-organized by the Münchner Kartellrechtsforum, Thorsten Käseberg, Head of the Department for Competition and Consumer Policy at the Federal Ministry of Economics, outlined and discussed the first draft bill.

10th Amendment to the GWB: Thorsten Käseberg speaks at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition
Thorsten Käseberg speaks at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition about the 10th Amendment to the German Competition Act. Photo: Ulrike Garlet

The power of digital platforms does not only pose new challenges for consumers and small businesses, but also for competition authorities. The extent to which competition policy needs new instruments to counteract tendencies of power concentration in the platform economy has for long been at the center of an ongoing debate. The planned 10th amendment to the Act against Restraints of Competition (GWB), now intends to provide the Bundeskartellamt with additional instruments enabling the authority to act more effectively with regard to digital companies who possess market power. The aim of the law is to create a “digital regulatory framework”.

On the occasion of the official publication of the draft bill, Thorsten Käseberg, Head of the Department of Competition and Consumer Policy at the Federal Ministry of Economics, presented an overview of the planned new provisions of the "GWB Digitization Act" at an event at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition co-organized by the Münchner Kartellrechtsforum e.V.

The centerpiece of the draft bill is the modernization of the rules on abusive conduct by companies who possess outstanding market power. "You can say that the wind has turned significantly with regard to this concern”, said Käseberg at the beginning of his lecture, summarizing the general sentiment both in society and in many competition authorities worldwide. An increasing number of observers have indicated that with the traditional rules the authorities would hardly be able to effectively control certain unilateral strategies of dominant companies in the digital sector.

The amendment addresses the increasing importance of data by introducing "access to competition-relevant data" as an additional factor for assessing the market position of a company (Section 18 (3) GWB, new version). In addition, in the new Section 18 (3b), the concept of "intermediary power" as a factor for determining a dominant market position has been introduced to the law. This provision intends to better capture the role of platforms as intermediaries in multilateral markets.

By expanding the "Essential Facilities Doctrine" the GWB amendment takes the importance of data for digital business models into account. "We have tried to open up and internationalize the provision which previously only referred to physical infrastructures”, said Käseberg. If a dominant company refuses to grant another company access to data, this behavior can be classified as abusive under certain conditions according to the new Section 19 (2) No. 4. "Even if we cannot finally solve the issue of data governance, we want to create an instrument for cases of clear abuse.”

According to Käseberg's assessment, the new Section 19a is expected to be highly controversial. This provision addresses platforms who dispose of an outstanding market power across several markets. With regard to such companies the Bundeskartellamt would be able to establish that they belong to this category and to subsequently interdict certain strategies of such platforms. This includes self-preferencing, leveraging of market power and impeding data portability.

The German rules on abusive conduct apply already below the market power threshold in the case of relative market power or dependency. According to the planned revision of Section 20 (1) the application of these rules will in the future not any more be limited to cases where small and medium enterprises are possible plaintiffs.

In addition to the reform of abuse control, the 10th amendment to the GWB will adapt the thresholds for merger control and create more legal security for cooperation between companies. The amendment also implements the ECN+ Directive, which aims to strengthen the competition authorities in the EU Member States.

Miscellaneous  |  01/15/2020

Innovation & Entrepreneurship Seminar: Already More Than 150 International Guest Lectures Since the Start

The Max Planck Innovation & Entrepreneurship Seminar Series of the Department for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research, formerly Brown Bag Seminar, has grown into a well-known research seminar series in Munich’s research environment and beyond.

Photo: Myriam Rion

The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Seminar Series  until the end of 2019 under the name Brown Bag Seminar Series – of the Department headed by Dietmar Harhoff was established in 2013. The seminars usually take place once a week and are open to members of the Institute as well as to external researchers and students. Since the start, the series has hosted more then 150 guest speakers from all over Europe, the US, Canada, Africa, and Asia.

To the Seminar Series

Upcoming Events

Event Report  |  01/10/2020

RISE2 Workshop 2019 – Two Days of Intense Scientific Exchange for Young Scholars

On 16 and 17 December 2019, 50 international young researchers from over 20 universities across Europe and the US attended the 2nd Research in Innovation, Science and Entrepreneurship Workshop (RISE2).

Photo: Myriam Rion

For the second time now, the two-day event was organized by Ph.D. students and Postdocs of the Department for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research headed by Dietmar Harhoff to give young scholars the opportunity to present and discuss their work.

This year’s attendants experienced two workshop days filled with an exciting program comprising 14 paper presentations on the Economics of Innovation, Science and Entrepreneurship based on various methodological approaches, which were followed by 14 discussions from experienced researchers. A special highlight of the event was the inspiring keynote speech by Pierre Azoulay, Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

On the first day, the workshop focused on topics related to the determinants of scientific productivity. Speakers presented research findings on how scientists select interesting research questions and potential collaborators as well as on the relevance of access to funding and research tools. The afternoon was dedicated to the role of gender in science, especially to analyzing peer effects and the importance of female role models. To conclude the day, keynote speaker Pierre Azoulay presented interesting research results on “The Impact of Scientific Training on Today’s Trainers”. He emphasized the role of training in nurturing scientific talents and the importance of building programs that incentivize them to remain active in science.

The morning of the second day offered interesting insights on innovation and entrepreneurship. Young scholars presented research on the geographic diffusion of knowledge as well as on the transfer of scientific knowledge into commercial applications. They shed light on the circumstances under which universities and individual researchers foster the innovation outcomes of their communities. In the afternoon, the workshop focused on the design and effects of intellectual property rights regimes. Researchers simulated the consequences of changes in the current European patent system. Additionally, they provided evidence on the effects of patents on start-ups as well as on the pricing behavior of firms.

See the complete program with all topics here and check out on Twitter under #RISE2Workshop.

The RISE workshop series aims at stimulating a rigorous in-depth discussion of a selected number of research papers by Ph.D. students and Junior Postdocs, providing feedback and connecting with peers from other research institutions. Accordingly, the workshop brings together young researchers from all over Europe and the US with researchers from the Munich Innovation Community.

We thank all organizing parties involved and all participants, including the keynote speaker, discussants and presenters for a truly outstanding RISE2 Workshop 2019. With great enthusiasm and motivation, we look forward to the RISE3 Workshop 2020.

Verbraucherrechtstage im Bundesministerium für Justiz und Verbraucherschutz
Event Report  |  01/10/2020

Data Access, Consumer Interests and Public Interest Grounds

At the Consumer Rights Days (Verbraucherrechtstage) 2019, which were taken care of in scientific regards by the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, representatives from scholarship and politics discussed how access to data in the digital era should ideally be regulated.

Consumer Rights Days at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection
At the Consumer Rights Days the participants discussed the topic "Data Access, Consumer Interests and Public Interest Grounds". Photo: BMJV

Data are the engine of the digital transformation. They are at the center of new business models, they feed the development of artificial intelligence and enable innovation.

In the digital era undertakings, consumers and the state depend on access to data controlled by others in many contexts. The need and justification for new data access rules, as well as the question of how they should be designed, not only present new challenges for political decision-makers – both at national and EU level – but have recently also gained more attention in legal scholarship.

It was therefore the aim of the Consumer Rights Days 2019 to bring together representatives from scholarship and politics to discuss the future of data access regimes. The Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, under the leadership of its Director Josef Drexl, was in charge of organizing the academic side of the two-day conference hosted at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. Through presentations, keynotes and a panel discussion, participants considered how access to data in the digital era should be designed to promote innovation and competition while ensuring that privacy interests and trade secrets are adequately protected. The event highlighted the issue of data access not only from the perspective of competition policy but also with a particular focus on public interest grounds and consumer interests.

The keynote on the first day of the conference was given by Professor Christiane Wendehorst. As Co-Speaker for the Federal Government's Data Ethics Commission, she explained the most important results of the Commission's work. In the keynote on the second day, Malte Beyer-Katzenberger from the European Commission provided an idea of what kind of initiatives to promote access to data are to be expected from the Commission. Representing the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Professor Josef Drexl spoke on the potential introduction of data access claims of users regarding data generated by smart products. Jörg Hoffmann evaluated the potential of existing and future sector-specific access claims of competitors, and Heiko Richter discussed rules enabling the state to access private sector data based on public interest grounds.

The contributions to the conference are expected to be published in an edited volume before the end of 2020. Not least, the potential political impact of the conference has to be assessed against the backdrop that Germany will take over the Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2020. There is no doubt about the significance the goal of enhanced data access now has for the German government. "We are committed to improving access to data, and with the Consumer Rights Days public interest grounds and consumer interests move to the center of the debate. Yet, it will remain essential that the protection of the rights of every individual is equally guaranteed ", said State Secretary Gerd Billen at the close of the conference.

Find a detailed Summary of the Conumer Rights Days (in German) here.

Award  |  12/19/2019

Dietmar Harhoff is Awarded the Federal Cross of Merit 1. Class for Services to the Nation

On Thursday, 19 December 2019, Dietmar Harhoff was presented with the Cross of Merit 1. Class of the Federal Republic of Germany for services to the nation in presence of Federal Minister Anja Karliczek at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Berlin.

[Translate to english:]
f.l.t.r. Dietmar Harhoff and German Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek. Photo: BMBF/Hans-Joachim Rickel.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier awarded Dietmar Harhoff the honor on 2 September 2019 on the suggestion of the Federal Ministry in recognition of Harhoff’s professional work. Since many years, he has offered his expertise to providing independent and scientific advice on research and innovation to the Federal Government. With his commitment, Dietmar Harhoff makes significant contributions to developing innovative ideas, particularly in the realm of digitalization, in order to ensure prosperity and quality of life in Germany.

From 2007 to 2019, Harhoff chaired the Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation (Expertenkommission Forschung und Innovation - EFI) which provides scientific advice to the German Federal Government and annually delivers reports on research, innovation and technological productivity in Germany. Furthermore, he is member of the steering committee of the Innovation Dialogue of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Since 2019, he is chair of the Commission for the establishment of the new German Agency for Disruptive Innovation (SprinD) which is to promote innovations with radically new technologies and a great potential for changing markets with new products, services and value chains.

Furthermore, he chairs the Commission “Lower Saxonia 2030” which is to develop options for action on how the federal state can respond to current major societal and technological challenges.

The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany is the highest tribute the Federal Republic of Germany can pay to individuals for services to the nation and is the only honor that may be awarded in all fields of endeavor. The Order of Merit may be awarded to Germans as well as foreigners for achievements in the political, economic, social or intellectual realm and for all kinds of outstanding services to the nation in the field of social, charitable or philanthropic work. In awarding the Order of Merit the Federal President wishes to draw public attention to achievements that he believes are of particular value to society generally.

Feierliche Jahressitzung der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften im Herkulesssaal der Münchner Residenz
Event Report  |  12/19/2019

Markets, Society and the Law in Times of Digital Change

In his academic lecture at the annual festive session of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, Josef Drexl addressed the question of whether the existing legal framework is still able to regulate new digital business models appropriately.

Annual session of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in the Munich Residence
Annual session of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in the Munich Residence. Photo: BAdW
Josef Drexl during his academic lecture at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences
Josef Drexl during his academic lecture. Photo: BAdW

When the Bavarian Academy of Sciences convenes its members and selected guests for its annual session in the pre-Christmas season, this event traditionally takes on a very solemn character. In the exclusive setting of the Hercules Hall in the Munich Residence, the proceedings do not only revolve around the 260-year history of the non-university research institution. With the quantum technology research of the Leibniz Computing Center, the Walther Meißner Institute for Low Temperature Research as part of Bavaria's high-tech agenda, and the Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation (bidt), founded in 2018, the Academy is also playing a leading role on topics that matter for the future. "The academy looks back on a venerable history and at the same time pursues research on major issues concerning the future", the Bavarian Science Minister Bernd Sibler summarized this year in his welcoming address to the members of the Academy and the invited guests.

This December, the academic lecture - traditionally one of the highlights of the agenda -
was dedicated to digital transformation. Professor Josef Drexl, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition and a member of the Academy since 2010, spoke about the legal challenges arising from data-driven business models.

Digitization is not only fundamentally changing the economy and society. New technological developments also present challenges to existing law. "The liberal and democratic society faces the major task of regaining its own values in the face of technological, economic and social change to rethink and reorganize the relationship between the state, the economy and citizens", Josef Drexl set as a basic thesis in the center of his talk. 

Against the backdrop of three examples – the protests against the recent EU copyright reform, the discussion about the introduction of data ownership and the challenges competition law is confronted with in the digital sector – he showed that the existing instruments of market regulation are often no longer suitable to solve the modern problems of the digital economy without taking into account the fundamental rights of citizens, in particular the right to data protection.

In his lecture, the Director at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition also made clear that
currently all countries in the world have to make a decision on the status of their citizens' fundamental rights, not least with regard to the functioning of democracy in the future. In this context, he clearly rejected the one-dimensional characterization of data protection as an obstacle to digital innovation that would impair Europe’s competitiveness especially in comparison to the USA and China.  "It would be wrong to see the protection of personal data as a one-sided obstacle to innovation. It sets the standards how to deal with data in the digital age. At the same time, it creates the necessary incentives for digital innovations that are needed to make data protection technically possible”, said Josef Drexl in the Munich Residence.

The complete academic lecture can be found here

You can listen to the lecture in the podcast

More information about the annual meeting on 7 December 2019 can be found here

Professor Josef Drexl, Geschäftsführender Direktor beim Max-Planck-Institut für Innovation und Wettbewerb
People  |  12/17/2019

Josef Drexl to take Over Management of the Institute

Regular change of management: Since 1 January 2020 Josef Drexl is Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition.

Professor Josef Drexl, Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition
Josef Drexl will become Managing Director of the Institute on 1 January

He succeeds Reto M. Hilty, who has been managing the Institute since 2017, and he will hold the position for two years. Josef Drexl has been Director of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition since 2002. He has served as Managing Director twice before, in 2009/2010 and 2013/2014.

Josef Drexl expresses his sincere gratitude to Reto Hilty for his resilience in acting to the best of the Institute. Reto Hilty did not only excellently prepare and accompany the comparative evaluation of the Institute in 2018, he also contributed to its positive outcome. Under his guidance, the Institute had to face many challenges, and Reto Hilty helped to make first steps for preparing the Institute for its more distant future. Josef Drexl is very much looking forward to building on the achievements of Reto Hilty.

Miscellaneous  |  12/05/2019

Call for Papers - Munich Summer Institute 2020

Researchers who would like to present a paper are invited to submit it online until 29 February 2020.

From 2 to 4 June 2020, the Center for Law & Economics at ETH Zurich, the Chair for Technology and Innovation Management at TUM, the Institute for Strategy, Technology and Organization at LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition will jointly organize the fifth Munich Summer Institute.

The Summer Institute will focus on three areas:

The goal of the Munich Summer Institute is to stimulate a rigorous in-depth discussion of a select number of research papers and to strengthen the interdisciplinary international research community in these areas. Researchers in economics, law, management and related fields at all stages of their career (from Ph.D. students to full professors) may attend the Munich Summer Institute as presenters in a plenary or a poster session, as discussants or as attendants. The Munich Summer Institute will feature three keynote lectures, 18 plenary presentations and a daily poster session (including a poster slam). Paper presentations will be grouped by topics, not discipline or method. The Munich Summer Institute will be held at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities in the heart of Munich. Participation is by invitation only. The organizers will fund travel and hotel expenses for all plenary speakers and hotel expenses for all poster presenters and invited discussants.

Keynote speakers are:

Paper submission procedure

Researchers who would like to present a paper are invited to submit their paper online until 29 February 2020, at The Munich Summer Institute only considers papers which have not been published or accepted for publication at the date of submission. Paper selections will be announced in early April 2020. The program of the Munich Summer Institute will be available in early May 2020. Final papers will be made available to conference participants on a public website, and are due on 1 May 2020. Researchers who would like to attend the Munich Summer Institute without giving a presentation should contact one of the organizers by 1 May 2020.

Further information

More information is available at the MSI website. Any questions concerning the Munich Summer Institute should be directed to Stefan Bechtold, Jörg Claussen, Dietmar Harhoff, Joachim Henkel, Hanna Hottenrott or Tobias Kretschmer.