Symbolic illustration DNA with scissors
Opinion  |  08/11/2023

Position Statement on New Genomic Techniques and Intellectual Property Law

A new Position Statement of the Institute addresses concerns related to intellectual property protection for genome-editing technologies and genome-edited plants in the EU. It proposes a set of policy recommendations to facilitate access to and utilisation of IP-protected genome-editing technologies and their products in the plant breeding sector.

On 5 July 2023, the European Commission issued a proposal for the regulation that intends to relax the requirements for marketing authorisation of plants obtained by certain new genomic techniques (NGTs) in the EU. While NGTs are expected to become more appealing to breeders and farmers, the complexity of the intellectual property (IP) landscape surrounding NGTs and resulting products can have a discouraging effect on innovation. In view of numerous concerns related to IP protection for NGTs and NGT-derived plants, a research group at the Institute has developed a set of policy recommendations that can facilitate access to and utilisation of IP-protected NGTs and their products in the plant breeding sector.

To the Position Statement:
Position Statement (8 August 2023) on New Genomic Techniques and Intellectual Property Law: Challenges and Solutions for the Plant Breeding Sector

More on this topic:
CRISPR/Cas Technology and Innovation: Mapping Patent Law Issues

Dr. Valentina Moscon, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute.
Study  |  07/24/2023

Access to Data versus Exclusive Control over Data in European Data Rules

Valentina Moscon, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute, in her recent article identifies a trend in the European data rules. This is moving toward the creation of data exclusivity based on copyright and technical protection measures and contradicts the claim of free access to data.

Dr. Valentina Moscon, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute.
Dr. Valentina Moscon, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute.

Moscon uses case studies – specifically, the text and data mining (TDM) regime in the 2019 EU Copyright Directive and the upcoming EU Data Act laying down rules on access to IoT data – to analyze the ways in which the identified trend is already gaining traction and where it conflicts with both established principles of European and international copyright law and the balanced consideration of stakeholders’ interests.

On the one hand, the case of TDM shows that the scope of copyright is expanding and arguably, private ordering mechanisms such as technological protection measures (TPMs) which allow right holders to wield exclusive rights, are extending this scope even further, beyond the realm of works, to the realm of data. On the other hand, new legislative initiatives regulating data leave intellectual property rights other than the sui generis database right unaffected, with minor limitations, so that there will likely be a clash between data access rules and the exclusive rights of copyright and related rights holders. Also, the Data Act proposal introduces the protection of technological protection measures over data thereby further strengthening the exclusive control over data. Finally, in her paper Moscon formulates some recommendations for action.

Valentina Moscon
Data Access Rules, Copyright and Protection of Technological Protection Measures in the EU. A Wave of Propertisation of Information
Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Research Paper No. 23-14

Symbolic image of transparency // Photo: Tom/Pixabay
Study  |  07/17/2023

Improving Transparency and the Right to Open Data

In his current discussion paper, Heiko Richter, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute, examines two goals of the coalition agreement of the German federal government: to further develop the freedom of information laws into a federal transparency law and to introduce a legal entitlement to Open Data.

He asks what exactly these goals mean and to what extent they can be meaningfully combined. Richter goes on to elaborate on specific reform options that would carefully bring about a paradigm shift. Finally, he advocates that the law should grant individual rights to the publication of information and the provision of data, because such rights assume fundamental functions in a free and digital society.

The article begins with an in-depth analysis of existing open data regulations and transparency laws in Germany. The results of the analysis and discussion are then presented in seven theses as practical recommendations for action. In doing so, Richter suggests two possible variants: The enactment of a federal transparency law, referred to as a "small solution," with "open data extension" and corresponding entitlements. In a more comprehensive "big solution", a public interest-related entitlement to Open Data under Section 12a EGovG would be enshrined in law in addition to the small solution.

Heiko Richter
Transparenzgesetz des Bundes und „Rechtsanspruch auf Open Data“ Konzeptionelle Perspektiven jenseits der Neuerfindung des Rades
(Federal Transparency Law and “Right to Open Data”: Conceptual Perspectives Beyond the Reinvention of the Wheel)

Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Discussion Paper No. 22

Collage of the lettering podcast with image of a microphone and portrait photo of the researcher Timm Opitz
Study  |  06/01/2023

Clicking against the Clock – How Time Pressure and Regret Influence Our Behavior in Online Shopping

In a new podcast episode, Timm Opitz explains how time pressure and regret can influence our search behavior in the world of online shopping. He sheds light on his research project titled “Time Pressure and Regret in Sequential Search”, which investigates the impact of urgency and regret on optimal search behavior by conducting experiments in a controlled environment.

Collage of the lettering podcast with image of a microphone and portrait photo of the researcher Timm Opitz
Timm Opitz speaks in the science podcast series Game Changer

In the podcast, he also shares some strategies we can use to overcome the influence of urgency and regret in our shopping behavior.

Timm Opitz is Junior Research Fellow and doctoral student in the economics department Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research of the Institute. His research focuses on entrepreneurship, behavioral market design, and developmental psychology.

Perceived urgency and regret are common in many sequential search processes. Sellers often pressure buyers in search of the best offer, both time-wise and in terms of potential regret of forgoing unique purchasing opportunities. Theoretically, these strategies result in anticipated and experienced regret, which systematically affect search behavior and thereby distort optimal search. In addition, urgency may alter decision-making processes and thereby the salience of regret.

To understand the empirical relevance of these aspects, Timm Opitz and his coauthors study the causal effects of regret, urgency, and their interaction on search behavior in an experiment. Empirically, they find that anticipated regret does not affect search behavior either with or without time pressure, while experienced regret leads to systematic adjustments in search length. Urgency reduces decision times and perceived decision quality, but does not generally alter search length. Only very inexperienced customers buy earlier when pressured. Thus, consumer protection measures against pressure selling tactics can help inexperienced consumers in particular.

Go directly to the Podcast.

Click here to access the full publication:

Klimm, Felix; Kocher, Martin G.; Opitz, Timm; Schudy, Simeon A. (2023).
Time Pressure and Regret in Sequential Search
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 206, 406-424

Opinion  |  05/03/2023

Position Statement on the Implementation of the Digital Markets Act (DMA)

The DMA entered into force on 1 November 2022 and applies from 2 May 2023. It aims to ensuring contestable and fair markets in the digital sector across the EU where gatekeepers are present. In its position statement of 2 May 2023, the Institute acknowledges that uniform rules for core platform services throughout the EU and a centralised enforcement are necessary to prevent internal market fragmentation and welcomes the first Commission Implementing Regulation for the DMA of 14 April 2023. However, it remains concerned by the DMA’s unique institutional design and its interaction with other laws as outlined under Articles 1(5), 1(6) and 1(7).

Symbolic image: Digital Markets, photo: geralt/Pixabay

In particular, the Institute raises awareness about possible overly broad blocking effects of the DMA on national rules, which may have the unintended consequences of privileging gatekeepers by jeopardizing future national legislative initiatives. This ultimately obstructs the achievement of contestability and fairness in digital markets. A complementary application of the competition rules and an effective enforcement of the DMA is, against this backdrop, crucial. Yet there is uncertainty over administrative enforcement mechanisms, and it is unclear what role private enforcement plays in the current legal design of the DMA. The position statement identifies and examines challenges in the implementation of the DMA, along with recommendations for meeting them.

Position Statement of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition of 2 May 2023 on the Implementation of the Digital Markets Act (DMA)

Digital Markets Act (DMA)

Commission Implementing Regulation for the DMA of 14 April 2023

Miscellaneous  |  04/21/2023

What Contribution Can Patent Law Make to Combating the Climate Crisis?

To meet the challenges we face from the climate crisis, new sustainable technologies are urgently needed. However, different causes can lead to market failure, which may inhibit investments in such innovations.

Photo: Leopictures/Pixabay

In their recent article Reto M. Hilty and Pedro Henrique D. Batista raise the question which role patent law plays in correcting the different types of market failure. Specifically, the authors examine the extent to which adjustments to patent law are possible and appropriate, but also show when patent law fails to achieve its effects. In addition, they analyze possible effects of other regulatory interventions, in particular whether technological specifications counteract possible market failure or whether they entail the risk of state failure.

Reto M. Hilty, Pedro Henrique D. Batista
Potential and Limits of Patent Law to Address Climate Change
Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Research Paper No. 23-10

European Commission: Intellectual Property – Revised Framework for Compulsory Licensing of Patents
Opinion  |  03/13/2023

Revisiting the Framework for Compulsory Licensing of Patents in the EU

In the context of the European Commission's public consultation on “Compulsory licensing of patents in the EU”, the Institute has published a position statement. The authors around Reto M. Hilty welcome that the Commission wants to reinvigorate the public discourse on this important topic. However, according to the authors, the Commission’s reform proposal does not take things far enough.

Logic Mill Logo
Miscellaneous  |  01/31/2023

Logic Mill – A Knowledge Navigation System

The ever-growing number of patents, scientific publications, and other text corpora is becoming a burden for many researchers. At the same time, new opportunities for scientific analysis arise. The scalable open-source software system Logic Mill applies machine learning to very large document sets, enabling researchers to quickly identify similar texts in a wide variety of fields. This opens up new perspectives in areas such as prior art searches for patent examination, the as­sess­ment of the novelty of patents and publications, and the likelihood of patent litigation.

Logic Mill Logo
Logic Mill-Logo – inspired by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz’ pinwheel from a drawing of a calculator.
Visualization of the implementation of Logic Mill
Visualization of the implementation of Logic Mill

Researchers are faced with an increasing volume of relevant documents from a wide variety of fields. Thus, there is a growing need for tools that allow researchers to quickly identify related texts in different domains. Existing solutions do not allow linking documents from text corpora that originate from different domains. Moreover, they are not scalable, or use proprietary algorithms.

Logic Mill – A New Software System and Research Tool

Logic Mill is a new software system and research tool designed by a research group from the Economics Department and led by Dietmar Harhoff to identify documents that are similar to a given text in other text corpora. It consists of a set of open source software components and has a public application-programming interface (API) that the scientific community may use.

The Solution

The Logic Mill software analyzes large parts of texts, which consist not only of words, but also of structure and context, with the help of state-of-the-art machine learning techniques. Unlike previous attempts to estimate text similarity, Logic Mill accounts for semantic structure as an additional dimension of similarity. Logic Mill does not only look for the occurrence of the same words, but also in what context (that is, relative to the sentence and paragraph) these occur. Specialized machine learning models encode the text numerically and allow the computation of various similarity measures.

Previous attempts of comparing text documents were mostly limited to texts of the same category, such as patents to patents or publications to publications. Now, it is possible to compare documents across these and other domains.

Currently indexed datasets include data from Semantic Scholar, EPO, USTPO und WIPO. An integration of Wikipedia is in preparation.

The Research Applications

Logic Mill allows to explore literature quickly. It permits to find semantically similar patent documents, which is important for prior art search in patent examination or to assess the propensity of patent litigation. Moreover, it can link patents to related scientific publications. Logic Mill can recommend citations for new documents and readings from just published papers. It also allows assessing the novelty of patents and publications. In addition, knowledge flows can be traced across different domains. New trends and the diffusion of new concepts can be detected.

The name of the project Logic Mill is inspired by the novels of the “The Baroque Cycle” by British writer Neal Stephenson. In it, German polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz conceptualizes a machine to organize all human knowledge based on a retrieval system using prime numbers. While this machine is fictitious, Leibniz’s thoughts echo into modern computing, in particular into the problem of representing any kind of data numerically.

Further information:

If you would like to be notified of Logic Mill progress or participate in the trial program, you can register on the Logic Mill Website.

Directly to the publication Logic Mill – A Knowledge Navigation System.

Participants of the workshop in Kyiv in October 2021. Photo: Sophia Sorg
Study  |  01/27/2023

Comprehensive Work on Ukrainian Competition and Intellectual Property Law Published

The book project, the result of which is now available, already began in 2020. Heiko Richter, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute, has published “Competition and Intellectual Property Law in Ukraine”, the most comprehensive book on Ukrainian competition and intellectual property law in English to date.

Participants of the workshop in Kyiv in October 2021. Photo: Sophia Sorg
Participants of the workshop in Kyiv in October 2021. Photo: Sophia Sorg

The 600-page publication is the completion of a two-and-a-half-year project. More than 20 Ukrainian legal scholars were involved in the project, and their contributions cover a broad range of topics. The holistically designed volume aims to make the development and current state of Ukrainian law accessible and visible to the international research community. In addition to promoting academic discourse, the book aims to appeal to policy-makers. Thus, the contributions discuss and elaborate on legal policy reform proposals.

Recent legal developments in Ukraine have been extraordinarily dynamic. Not least as a result of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU concluded in 2014, Ukrainian and competition and intellectual property law have undergone significant changes. The study examines theoretical aspects of legal harmonization as well as actual developments in the areas of international trade law, antitrust and unfair competition law, intellectual property law and copyright law. The spectrum of topics ranges from the “Europeanisation” of Ukrainian antitrust law and the regulation of the digital economy under antitrust law to access to medicines and the significance of geographical indications to the reform of collecting societies and the protection of artificial intelligence under intellectual property law.

With the aim of presenting a reference book, the authors collaborated intensively across institutional and national borders. It is owing to the authors’ perseverance and confidence that the manuscript could finally be completed in late summer 2022 in the midst of the turmoil of war. For the Institute, in addition to the editor, Moritz Sutterer, Daria Kim, Sophia Sorg and Claudia Dalmau Gomez were involved in the project, which was also accompanied by an online and a face-to-face workshop in Kyiv in October 2021. Many personal contacts were established in the course of the project.

Competition and Intellectual Property Law in Ukraine is published by Springer as part of the series MPI Studies on Intellectual Property and Competition Law. It is available for download via Springer-Link as PDF and EPUB. The print version is available in bookshops.

Study  |  01/26/2023

Allegations of Sexual Misconduct, Accused Scientists, and Their Research

Does the scientific community sanction sexual misconduct? While scientific work, according to Merton’s norm of universalism, should be judged regardless of who created it, the scientific community should also encourage “good citizenship” to promote an inclusive environment. The findings of a new study raise a number of ethical questions that the scientific community will need to answer going forward. 

The goal of science is to produce knowledge. To facilitate the prolificacy of the process, science is organized around a set of principles known as the “Mertonian Norms”. One tenet, among others, is that ideas are evaluated on their own merit, regardless of who created them. Yet, at the same time, science is also a social system, and the community of scientists may rely on additional norms to create an inclusive environment and to regulate itself. Sometimes, these norms are in conflict.

There is evidence that the community gives less attention to (i.e., cites less) the works of scientists who had one of their articles retracted. Such a penalty may be conceived as consistent with the Mertonian norms, as a retraction casts doubt on the validity of one’s work. However, applying a similar penalty to the contributions of scientists who have egregiously violated social norms runs afoul.

In a new study, Rainer Widmann, Michael E. Rose and Marina Chugunova try to answer the question of whether the scientific community not only sanctions “bad science”, but also “bad citizenship”. They focus on sexual misconduct, which sadly is a prevalent form of social norm violation in academia as in other fields.

In their analysis, they track citations to articles of alleged perpetrators that were published prior to allegations, and compare them to the citations received by other articles that stem from the same journal issue. They find that the scientific community cites prior work of alleged perpetrators less after allegations of sexual misconduct surface. Researchers that are very close to the perpetrator in the coauthorship network (e.g., former coauthors) react the strongest and reduce their citations the most. Comparing the results of the new study to previously found citation penalties for scientific misconduct, the magnitudes appear similarly sized. Finally, the authors document that alleged perpetrators face palpable career consequences: they publish and collaborate less following the allegations, and they are more likely to quit academic research altogether.

There may be several reasons why authors may withhold citations. First, they may do so to penalize. This occurs even when there is a cost associated with punishing, which in the present context would be the deviation from the usual norm in referencing relevant prior work. Second, authors may not cite to avoid being seen as condoning sexual misconduct. This motive may be particularly relevant for researchers who are close to the alleged perpetrator. Third, peers may not separate academic and non-academic misconduct, or perceive that misconduct in the two domains is correlated.

The present study is the first to provide systematic evidence on the consequences of sexual misconduct for perpetrators. The findings raise a number of ethical questions that highlight the tension between the advancement of knowledge and the advancement of science as a social institution. Is the decline in citations to the perpetrator’s body of prior work an undue distortion of the scientific process or an appropriate penalty? Is the loss of scientific output due to excluding or penalizing alleged perpetrators acceptable? Are the documented career consequences adequate, taking also into account possible deterrence benefits for (future) victims? The results of the new study provide a new basis for a discussion of these important issues.

Further information:

Directly to the publication Allegations of Sexual Misconduct, Accused scientists, and Their Research

Max Planck Institute for innovation and Competition Research Paper No. 22-18