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

Symbolbild EU-Design Package - CC0 based on images by pixabay.com
Opinion  |  01/24/2023

Position Statement on the Design Package

On 28 November 2022, the EU Commission adopted proposals for a revised Regulation and Directive on designs (Design Package). The aim of the proposals is to streamline and simplify procedures, promote harmonisation and improve the functioning of design law. In its position statement of 23 January 2023, the Institute welcomes the overall aim of the proposals. However, some points deserve further comment and clarification. Here, the focus of the remarks lies on substantive law.

Data Sharing for Good Health & Well-Being: India's Way Forward to Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3
Miscellaneous  |  10/28/2022

Achieving Sustainable Development Goals through Data Sharing

“Regulation of the Data Economy in Emerging Economies”  is the title of an international project in which researchers from the Institute are looking at how regulatory mechanisms in the data economy must be designed to promote sustainable economic development in emerging economies. The second workshop of this project, focusing on health-related issues, was held in Bengaluru, India, on 8 and 9 September.

Data Sharing for Good Health & Well-Being: India's Way Forward to Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3
Participants of the workshop in Bengaluru, India

The Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition has contributed significantly to the fast evolving policy framework in EU for the regulation of its digital economy. Most recently an in-depth analysis of the provisions of the proposed Data Act was published as a position statement. However, since the issues pertaining to the digital economy are of a global nature, the Institute is also looking at the developments outside the EU. Against this backdrop, a team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Josef Drexl is working on a project titled Regulation of the Data Economy in Emerging Economies. The project has a specific focus on studying the approaches of emerging economies for leveraging data sharing in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and is being developed in collaboration with international partners from Brazil, India and Senegal. The said partners are Mackenzie University, São Paulo, National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, BML Munjal University, Haryana, and Université Virtuelle du Senegal, Dakar.

To identify the state of play of each country regarding data sharing in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the research starts by assessing current initiatives from both private and public entities, the existing legal framework and the policy debate regarding data sharing. Accordingly, on-site workshops were planned to be held in each country to contextualise the research in the socio-economic realities of these emerging economies. The first in the series was titled “Workshop on Data Sharing and Sustainable Development in Emerging Economies - Senegal” and held in Dakar on 16 and 17 March 2022. Its focus was agriculture and financial inclusion. This was followed by a workshop organised in Bengaluru on 8 and 9 September titled “Data Sharing for Good Health & Well-Being: India’s Way Forward to Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3”.

The recently concluded workshop in Bengaluru brought together a wide range of stakeholders in India from pioneering industry representatives in the health sector (NIRAMAI Health Analytix, Saathealth, DRiefcase, Ambee); industry associations like NASSCOM; private initiatives like Swasth Alliance and iSPIRT, public bodies such as NITI Aayog, independent researchers and research institutions in the area of health, members of civil society as well as academic scholars from policy and legal disciplines.

One key takeaway from the Bengaluru workshop was that there is enormous innovation happening in diverse areas with the utilisation of data, both personal and non-personal, in the direction of achieving SDG #3. It was also observed that India benefits from its experience in setting up digital public infrastructure dating back to the development of its Unified Payment Interface in 2016. This departs from the approach in Senegal where the infrastructural backbone for data sharing is still missing. While the take-up of these initiatives in the health sector has been encouraging in India, a regulatory framework governing this largely technological solution to data sharing in health seems to be lacking. The absence of a comprehensive data protection regime in India was a recurring theme.

In the coming months, country-specific reports are awaited from each workshop. These scientific reports will analyse the variety of approaches in these emerging economies and inform the formulation of commonly applicable recommendations. Such recommendations may then be utilised to tailor specific data-sharing policies and assist in attaining SDGs.

The next workshop is to be held in São Paulo on 15th and 16th December, 2022 at the Mackenzie University with a focus on climate action (SDG #13): Data Sharing & Climate Action in Brazil

Michael E. Rose scanning a directory
Study  |  07/22/2022

How Amateur Genealogists Support Research – A Citizen Science Project

Together with Germany’s largest association for family research, the Verein für Computergenealogie, the Institute is conducting a digitization project to collect data with the help of amateur genealogists. The data from over 100 volumes of annual directories of writings published at German universities and higher education institutions open up many new, exciting research questions.

Michael E. Rose scanning a directory
Senior Research Fellow Michael E. Rose, Ph.D., scanning a directory
Eintrag der Dissertation von Fritz Haber in der Bearbeitungsmaske
Entry of the dissertation of Fritz Haber in the editing mask
Original entry of the dissertation by Hilde Mangold
Original entry of the dissertation by Hilde Mangold

Citizen Science thrives on the interaction between citizens and researchers. The interest in cooperation is steadily growing. Well-known projects in the environmental area include bird counting and bee observation.

Since December 2021, the MPI for Innovation and Competition has now been cooperating with the German Association for Computer Genealogy (CompGen) in a data project to record the annual directories of publications at German universities and higher education institutions. The directories, which were published between 1885 and 1987, first by the Royal Library in Berlin and later by the German Library in Leipzig, cover 103 volumes. They list mainly dissertations and postdoctoral theses written at German universities and higher education institutions. Afterwards, the directories were discontinued in this form. A digital continuation failed.

For citizens who conduct genealogical or family research, the lists, some of which contain rich biographical information, are interesting because they hope to meet ancestors, bearers of the same name or people from their town or region. Birgit Casper, who is working on the project, reports on her motivation for collecting the data: “I know two doctors in my family. Of one, born in 1891, I know pretty much where he studied and that he submitted his dissertation ‘On cases of poisoning with American worm seed oil’ to the medical faculty in Rostock in 1920. Of the other, born in 1892, I only know where he practiced medicine as of 1924. I do not know where he studied, nor when and on what subject he did his doctorate. Here I am waiting for the corresponding volume.”

For scientists, the lists are intriguing because they provide a complete overview of researchers who were educated at German universities since 1885 and some of whom were internationally important. Since German universities were internationally leading in almost all disciplines at the turn of the century, the project promises particularly interesting insights. We find the dissertations of numerous later Nobel Prize winners, such as Walther Nernst, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1920 and was on the board of directors of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (KWI) for Physics, as well as Werner Heisenberg, who later gave his name to the subsequent MPI for Physics, and also Maria Goeppert-Mayer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 as the first female German Nobel Prize winner.

The first regular doctorate for a woman will also be found in the lists. In fact, women were severely underrepresented at first. Only a few were allowed to earn a doctorate before 1900, and only with special permission. It was only between 1901 and 1908 that the German states successively admitted women to their universities. The right to pursue doctoral studies, however, was awarded by the faculties themselves. A systematic recording of all dissertations will thus generate a complete overview of when, at the latest, women were allowed to earn a doctorate at which universities and faculties. The right to habilitation – the path to professorship – was given to them even later: Here, too, the lists can help shed light on the situation.

How does the collaboration between science and amateurs work in the project?

To find volunteers who want to work on the project, CompGen publishes calls and updates on Twitter and in the blog on the Compgen website. On a special wiki page for the project, volunteers can register, learn about the editorial guidelines, and start editing data right away.

Michael E. Rose, Senior Research Fellow at the MPI for Innovation and Competition, who leads the project and is active in the field of Science of Science, is gradually scanning the directories.

Then the lists are captured with a text recognition program and roughly segmented: What are first name, last name, title of the dissertation, the date of the defense, other details? The volunteers use the infrastructure provided by the association (input mask and data repository) to proofread the entries and add to them manually. The entered records are immediately available for search queries. So far, seven annual directories have been processed. After completion of the project, the lists, which are interlinked, for example, to the German National Library, Wikipedia, and Scopus, a multidisciplinary abstract and citation database for research literature, will be publicly available as research data.

One of the best-known personalities recorded so far is Fritz Haber, who, as founding director, headed the KWI for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry in Berlin for 22 years, which is now named after him. His dissertation, „Ueber einige Derivate des Piperonals“ (On some derivatives of piperonal), a fungicidal fragrance, is found in volume VI (1890/91). Fritz Haber received the Nobel Prize in 1919, awarded for the year 1918, for his research on the catalytic synthesis of ammonia, i.e., in a different field of research from his dissertation.

Max von Laue, on the other hand, who completed his doctorate with Max Planck in 1903 „Über die Interferenzerscheinungen an planparallelen Platten“ (On the interference phenomena in plane-parallel plates), continued to pursue the research begun with his dissertation – until he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1914 for his work on X-ray interferences.

However, not all doctoral graduates were able to receive the recognition they deserved. Hilde Mangold’s research in the field of embryology led to a Nobel Prize in 1935 for her doctoral advisor Hans Spemann, who was director at the KWI for Biology in Berlin-Dahlem during the First World War. Mangold herself died in a fire shortly after defending her dissertation in 1924. After all, the prize-winning discovery, the Spemann organizer, is sometimes called the Spemann-Mangold organizer.

Due to their depth of detail and completeness, the data digitized in the project allow for numerous exciting research questions. Can we read problems of an era from law dissertations? How do the demographics and social origins of doctoral students change over time and at individual universities? Who were the women who were the pioneers in earning a doctorate? What is the relationship between dissertations and patent activity?

However, before that, the dataset must be completed, and every hand and pair of eyes is still needed to accomplish this. More information under https://wiki.genealogy.net/Hochschulschriften.

Opinion  |  07/05/2022

Position Statement on the Decision of the WTO Ministerial Conference on the TRIPS Agreement

On 17 June 2022, the WTO Ministerial Conference adopted a long-awaited decision on the TRIPS Agreement. The Decision has not waived any intellectual property rights as such, as proposed by India and South Africa in October 2020. Instead, it mainly clarifies the application of the existing TRIPS flexibilities. As a follow-up to its earlier Position Statement, the Institute issued a paper that outlines the legal and practical implications of the Decision.

This second Position Statement, which follows the Institute's Position Statement of 7 May 2021, reflects on the legal and practical implications of the Ministerial Decision in view of the ultimate goal of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. A particular focus here is on TRIPS flexibilities relating to compulsory licensing of patents.

Position Statement of 5 July 2022 on the Decision of the WTO Ministerial Conference on the TRIPS Agreement adopted on 17 June 2022