Law Schools

Qualcomm grants $2M to Northwestern's law school to investigate patents' role in innovation


Do patents under the current legal and regulatory structure limit technology? A $2 million gift by wireless technologies company Qualcomm Inc. to Northwestern University School of Law will fund research to find out.

The money, given to the school’s Searle Center is meant to support research and an investigation of the role of patents in incentivizing technological innovation.

“There is a lot of discussion about ‘patent thickets,’ ‘hold-up’ and ‘royalty stacking’ and how these constructs could hinder innovation, but there is surprisingly little actual data out there,” Searle Center Director Matthew Spitzer said in a news release about the donation. “Our project will create the needed data sets and allow the critics’ claims to be tested.”

The grant money will be used to create a series of related databases to collate information regarding standards, licensing, litigation and markets for patents. The data collected will be available to scholars to better understand inventive activity and how it’s commercialized.

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