Universiteit Leiden

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Taking Technological Infrastructure Seriously

On 29 June 2017, Carl Mair will defend his PhD dissertation “Taking Technological Infrastructure Seriously”. The defence will commence at 13.45 hrs, in the Academy Building of Leiden University, Rapenburg 73. The supervisors are Professor A. Schmidt and Professor G.J. Zwenne.

Taking Technological Infrastructure Seriously attempts to take stock of a change in the way modern infrastructural resources are provided. Unlike traditional infrastructure, such as roads and electricity cables, where the State has largely been responsible for its provision, much of the key technological infrastructures which underwrite modern society are privately provided by companies which own exclusive intellectual property rights over them. These modern infrastructures include computer operating systems, as well as crucial low-level interoperability information such as technical standards.

This dissertation argues that exclusive intellectual property rights are fundamentally at odds with the infrastructural nature of these technologies, which like all infrastructure, favours broad availability and open access over exclusive control. While both industry and the Courts have been converging upon open access management regimes for technological infrastructure, the economic rationale has sometimes been weak and underdeveloped. This dissertation attempts to fill this gap by developing an ‘infrastructural approach’ to such resources, and showing how it may be applied under different institutional conditions, such as EU competition law, R&D subsidy grants, public procurement and business model innovation.

Prof.dr. G.J. Zwenne about Carl Mair

"Carl has investigated the way intellectual property rights are used by companies to block access to essential technological infrastructure. His contribution focuses on trying to develop legal and economic tests for when these blocks should be broken down by public intervention, such as by competition agencies."

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