Patent Accidents: Questioning Strict Liability in Patent Law

Post by Patrick Goold. In 1999, Canadian company, Research in Motion (RIM), launched the Blackberry email pager. The pager was an instant commercial success amongst businesspeople and politicians alike. Behind the Blackberry’s success was its wireless email technology. No longer were emails confined to the desktop but were now easily accessible on-the-go. The technology for … Read more

Book Announcement: Jennifer Rothman, The Right of Publicity: Privacy Reimagined for a Public World

Post by Patrick Goold

Last month it was revealed that Facebook shared users’ personal information with political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, and that such information may have been used to influence the US 2016 presidential elections and the UK Brexit vote.  For many, this event has highlighted the need for stronger privacy laws in the twenty-first century. Jennifer Rothman, The Right of Publicity: Privacy Reimagined for a Public World (Harvard University Press, 2018) is therefore as timely as it is fun to read. In a monograph packed with illuminating re-readings of leading cases alongside engaging celebrity stories, Rothman argues that a modified right of publicity could be an important tool for protecting individuals’ privacy interests in the Information Age.

The rights of privacy and publicity are sometimes seen as opposites. Privacy protects shrinking violets who wish to avoid the public’s gaze, while publicity protects the interests of celebrities who seek out the limelight, or so it is said. Indeed, some claim that the right of publicity was created precisely because privacy law failed to adequately protect the interests of public figures. According to a common historical narrative, courts frequently rejected celebrities’ attempts to restrain the use of their names and images under privacy law.  Privacy being the last thing any celebrity really needed, judges found privacy laws to be the wrong vehicle for protecting valuable celebrity personas; and thus there existed a need for a new and separate cause of action.  

In The Right of Publicity, Rothman shows the privacy-publicity divide is often an overly simplistic and unhelpful dichotomy. To begin with, the claim that a separate right of publicity was required to protect celebrities’ interests is historically incorrect. The original right of privacy that emerged in the late nineteenth century was regularly employed by public figures (ranging from the likes of inventor Thomas Edison, sportspeople such as golfer Jack Redmond, and politicians such as J.P. Chin) to restrain unwanted publicity. Furthermore, this right was used by individuals to prevent actions that we would now consider commercial misappropriation of name and likeness. Early privacy cases restrained the non-consensual use of an artist’s photo on an advert for life insurance, the use of a famous physician’s signature on quack medicinal pastilles, and there was uproar when society woman Mary M. Hamilton Schuylyer could not use privacy laws to prevent the use of her image on a commercial for flour.  

The true story behind the right of publicity’s origin is far more interesting than the conventional one; it is also, however, far more worrisome and troubling. The right of publicity was created not to adequately protect celebrity interests, but to protect the interests of Hollywood and other big businesses. The new right of publicity enabled businesses to commodify celebrity personas.  Whereas the right of privacy was a non-transferable personal right, the right of publicity was, and remains, a transferable property right. Hollywood and others pushed for the right of publicity’s adoption because doing so enabled them to acquire exclusive rights in celebrity personas, and thus monopolize the commercial exploitation of public figures’ identities.

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The Administrative-Private Law Interface in IP: Conference Summary and Video

Post by Patrick Goold Intellectual property law is, in many ways, part of American private law. IP rights are commonly viewed as a type of property right (see e.g. here and here), and courts have historically been the dominant institution for enforcement of those rights. However, today IP law-making and adjudication is increasingly performed by … Read more

University of Amsterdam Summer School on ‘Private Law & Vulnerability’

Post by Patrick Goold The Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL), of the University of Amsterdam is organizing a Summer School on ‘Private Law & Vulnerability’, to be held 2-5 July 2018 in Amsterdam. The 2018 CSECL International Summer School will provide a cross-disciplinary exploration of the relationships between vulnerability and private … Read more

Conference Announcement: The Administrative-Private Law Interface in IP Law, Harvard Law School, March 29

The Project on the Foundations of Private Law at Harvard Law School, and the University of Texas School of Law invite you to attend The Administrative-Private Law Interface in IP, a day-long conference held at Harvard Law School on March 29. Intellectual property law is historically part of American private law. IP rights are generally … Read more

Private Law Fellowship at Yale Law School Center for Private Law

The Yale Law School Center for Private Law is now accepting applications for the 2018-19 Fellow in Private Law.

The Fellowship is designed for graduates of law or related Ph.D. programs who are interested in pursuing an academic career and whose research is related to any of the Center for Private Law’s research areas, which include contracts (including commercial law, corporate finance, bankruptcy, and dispute resolution), property (including intellectual property), and torts. More information about the Center can be found here.

The Fellowship in Private Law is a full-time, one-year residential appointment, with the possibility of reappointment. Up to half of the Fellow’s work time is devoted to operating the Center; the remaining time is reserved for the Fellow’s own scholarship and projects. Duties include organizing the Seminar in Private Law, academic workshops, and conferences, among other Center initiatives, and maintaining the Center’s website (which does not require specialized technical skills).

The Fellow will begin in the Summer or Fall of 2018. Fellows receive a competitive stipend plus benefits and office space at the Yale Law School.

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Apply to be a Private Law Fellow at Harvard Law School

The Project on the Foundations of Private Law at Harvard Law School is seeking applicants for the Postdoctoral Fellowship in Private Law. The Fellowship is a two-year, residential postdoctoral program specifically designed to identify, cultivate, and promote promising scholars early in their careers with a primary interest in private law. Private law embraces traditional common … Read more

HLS Private Law Workshop; Lisa Bernstein, Revisiting the Maghribi Traders (Again)

Post by Patrick Goold

Avner Greif’s study of Maghribi Jewish traders in the eleventh century is a seminal work in the literature on private ordering. In a couple of highly influential articles (here and here), Greif documented how this group of merchants created elaborate trading networks across the Islamic Mediterranean. Greif argued that the Maghribi formed a close-knit “coalition” that could eschew enforcement of agreements by lawsuits and the threat of liability and instead rely on reputation-based community enforcement. However, in recent years, historians of the period, including  Jessica Goldberg, as well as Jeremy Edwards and Sheilagh Ogilvie, have questioned Greif’s thesis, suggesting that there is little evidence of Maghribi traders boycotting members for misconduct, and some evidence that they relied on courts.

At this week’s HLS Private Law Workshop, Lisa Bernstein presented a draft essay that revisits this topic (Revisiting the Maghribi Traders (Again): A Social Network and Relational Contracting Perspective). Bernstein proposes to revise Greif’s analysis by swapping out the notion of “coalition” on which he relied for social network analysis and relational contract theory. While this is an alternative account of the Maghribi activities, it nonetheless supports Greif’s central thesis.

Although Maghribi merchants sometimes formed partnerships with one another, they more commonly used each other as reciprocal agents under a legally unenforceable agreement known as a Suhba. Under a Suhba, a merchant who asked his agent to perform a task (for example, travel to a foreign city to sell the merchant’s flax) would become obligated to perform a task of equal value (for example, introduce the agent to other important merchants). This system enabled the traders to diversify their trading portfolios and reach many markets across the Mediterranean without needing to travel with their goods. The center of this trading activity was Fustat, today part of Old Cairo, and it is a cache of documents in the Cairo Geniza that serve as the main historical record of the merchants’ activities.

Bernstein argues that the Maghribi traders were organized as a “semi-closed bridge and cluster network with small-world properties.” Within trading centers (cities like Fustat), most trade was conducted in the open with witnesses. Meanwhile, business and social interactions resulted in a dense network of ties that enabled reputation information to spread easily. These “network clusters” were then “bridged” by a number of social institutions and organizations. Postal routes between trading centers enabled information about reputation to flow between clusters. A handful of dominant traders also had personal and family ties spreading across a number of cities. In addition, an institutional functionary known as the “merchant’s representative” had an incentive to insure accurate information about dealings was transmitted between merchants. The merchant’s representative was a trader from a foreign city who established himself in a trade outpost. The representative’s stature in his new city depended on his ability to entice foreign merchants to do business there, which in turn depended on his ability to ensure that traders in the city kept their obligations. This structure of these bridges and clusters enabled reputational information to flow across the Islamic Mediterranean in such a way that network governance could potentially play a major role in supporting Maghribi trade.   

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HLS Private Law Workshop: Eric Claeys, Harms, Benefits, and Rights in Property and Private Law

Post by Patrick Goold

In the most recent HLS Private Law Workshop, Professor Eric Claeys presented a chapter of his forthcoming monograph, Natural Law, Natural Rights, and the Foundations of American Property Law. This monograph presents a natural law theory of American property law. The monograph argues that individuals have pre-political rights to use tangible resources in ways that promote human flourishing. Contemporary property doctrine embodies this logic and, in form and substance, upholds those rights.

The chapter Claeys presented discussed and responded to criticisms of common law property doctrine frequently made by law and economics scholars. Economists, starting with Ronald Coase, tend to view property law as an instrument for settling disputes about incompatible uses of resources (what Claeys labels the “incompatible use framework” of property).  When a rancher’s cattle strays onto a farmer’s wheat fields, or a railroad emits sparks onto a farmer’s hay bales, a Coasian treats the respective parties’ “rights” as the conclusion of, rather than a component of, its analysis.

As Coase acknowledged, this is not how courts have historically resolved such disputes. Rather than resolving the case before them based on transaction-cost analysis, courts tend to ask a series of conceptual questions, including: did the plaintiff have a right to prevent the defendant’s behavior? did the defendant’s actions cause the plaintiffs loss? and, did the plaintiff suffer cognizable harm? Coase and his progeny have viewed such reasoning with skepticism. At the root of this skepticism is the belief that the core concepts, such as “right”, “harm” and “causation,” lack substance and therefore, on their own, cannot tell a judge how to resolve disputes. To use a well-worn example, Coase argued that “causation” is reciprocal; that is, when a railroad’s sparks burn down a nearby farmer’s hay bales, both the railroad and the farmer are “causes” of the loss because both could have taken measures to prevent it.  Accordingly asking whether the defendant’s actions “caused” the plaintiff’s harm is not a cogent way to decide who ought to win in property litigation.

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HLS Private Law Workshop: Shyamkrishna Balganesh, Copyright as Legal Process

Post by Patrick Goold

2017 marks the bicentennial of Harvard Law School. It is fitting, therefore, that the first Private Law Workshop of the semester focused on intellectual legal history and, in part, the influence of some of Harvard’s most prominent law professors. Shyamkrishna Balganesh presented his work-in-progress Copyright as Legal Process. In it, Balganesh argues that copyright underwent a “quiet metamorphosis” in the twentieth century. Under the influence of the Legal Process School of jurisprudence, copyright evolved from private law to public law. What’s more, this evolution has entailed a fundamental transformation in the conception of law at the heart of modern copyright.

From 1870 to 1950, copyright law was, according to Balganesh, normatively and structurally part of American private law. The “private law conception” of copyright crystalized during the age of Legal Formalism (or Classical Legal Thought), and was characterized by a focus on the horizontal legal relationship between the copyright owner and the copyist. The owner’s copyright was, axiomatically, an individual right; users of the protected work were duty-bound not to copy; he who copied the work wronged the owner. This right-duty relationship was largely self-justifying. Courts rarely discussed the “purpose” of copyright law; on the occasions they did, they claimed copyright’s purpose was to uphold a right-duty relationship, and that any broader social goals were merely a welcome by-product. Furthermore, the private law conception involved a particular understanding of judicial reasoning. When adjudicating copyright disputes, courts rarely appealed to policy, nor paid particular deference to the wording or history of the Copyright Act 1909. Instead, courts tended to search for established “copyright principles” (such as the idea-expression dichotomy, or the nature of authorship) and reasoned therefrom.

Perhaps surprisingly, the private law conception of copyright – according to Balganesh –  was largely maintained through the Legal Realist period. While the Realists claimed legal doctrine was indeterminate and thus were skeptical that judicial reasoning could be objective, they nevertheless valorized the judiciary (and notably a number of high-profile Realists served on the bench). Realism emphasized judicial creativity in solving cases, while simultaneously placing little faith in statutory interpretation. As a result, when adjudicating copyright disputes, courts continued to show Congress little deference, but instead trusted judicial craftsmanship to resolve the particularized problems that arose.

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New Private Law and the Future of Law & Economics — Patrick Goold

Post by Patrick Goold

I recently had the pleasure of attending the “Future of Law & Economics and the Legacy of Guido Calabresi” conference held at Boston University School of Law. It examined the methodological, institutional, and conceptual issues raised by Judge Calabresi’s new book, The Future of Law and Economics. After two fun days, packed with delightful anecdotes about Calabresi and the early days of the Law and Economics movement, the question I found myself asking was: How do the ideas in this new book relate to the New Private Law project? My sense, which I will explain in this short post, is that there is a strong synergy between that project and Calabresi’s vision for Law and Economics.

At the core of Calabresi’s book is a distinction between “Economic Analysis of Law” (EAL) and “Law and Economics” (L&E). EAL uses economic theory to “analyze the legal world.”  EAL scholars explain and justify legal reality through the prism of efficiency. Where that reality does not fit economic theory, the EAL scholar proclaims the law to be “irrational” and in need of reform. The classical precursor to this approach is that of Jeremy Bentham, who tested moral beliefs against a theory of utilitarianism, and dismissed what did not fit the theory as vague generalities and “nonsense upon stilts.” The prominence of EAL scholarship today is due, in part, to the influential writings of Richard Posner.

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Internal and External Accounts of IP Law: Notes from IP, Private Law, and the Supreme Court Conference Continued

Post by Henry Smith

As a follow up to Patrick Goold’s post on the IP, Private Law, and the Supreme Court Conference, let me raise a couple of questions inspired by the first panel. Much of the discussion focused on how treating intellectual property as a kind of property does not mean assuming it is absolute or that all of IP is equally “property-like.” And yet what does it mean to think about a topic in terms of property?

In private law, a distinction is often drawn between two broad families of approaches. On the one hand are external, often functional, theories that explain and justify private law in terms of something else, whether economics, psychology, or philosophy. On the other side and less common in American law schools are internal or interpretivist theories that adopt the perspective of one inside the legal system and seek to make sense of that system from within – to render it coherent.

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Notes from the IP, Private Law, and Supreme Court Conference

Post by Patrick Goold

On March 10, the Project on the Foundations of Private Law at Harvard Law School and the Intellectual Property Program at the George Washington University Law School hosted the Intellectual Property, Private Law, and the Supreme Court conference. This day-long conference brought scholars, practitioners, and policy makers together to discuss the Supreme Court’s use of private law concepts in IP cases. The conference was a time to reflect on how the court has used principles from property, torts, contracts, equity and remedies, in IP law, and to think about how the court should use these principles in the future. This short blog post reports some of the day’s major themes.

Opening remarks were delivered by Commissioner F. Scott Kieff (International Trade Commission, on leave from his faculty position at George Washington Law).  Drawing from the examples of three prior cases (MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., 545 U.S. 913 (2015); Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, 134 S.Ct. 2111 (2015); and ClearCorrect Operating, LLC, v International Trade Commission, 819 F.3d 1334 (2016)), he explored some benefits and risks presented when individual litigants focus their arguments on private law concepts, and how this differs from the “too much versus too little protection” debate that commonly dominates IP law discussions.

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Intellectual Property, Private Law, and the Supreme Court — Conference Announcement

Post by Patrick Goold The Project on the Foundations of Private Law at Harvard Law School and the Intellectual Property Law Program at The George Washington University Law School invite you to attend Intellectual Property, Private Law, and the Supreme Court, a day-long conference in Washington, DC, on March 10. In the last decade, the … Read more

Patent Exhaustion and Private Law Goes to the Supreme Court — Patrick Goold

Post by Patrick Goold

Sir Edward Coke’s Institutes of the Lawes of England, first published in 1628, rarely influences the direction of modern U.S. patent law. But that might be about to change. This December, the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in the case of Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., Supreme Court Docket No. 15-1189, concerning the scope of the patent exhaustion doctrine. The case will interest readers of this blog because it highlights the conceptual and doctrinal relationship between IP exhaustion and common law rules regarding restraints on alienation.

The case involves the ongoing battle over refurbished printer toner cartridges. Lexmark International makes printer toner cartridges, over which it owns a number of patents. These cartridges fall into two types: “Regular Cartridges” are sold at full price; while “Return Program Cartridges” are sold at a discount but come with a “single-use/no-resale” restriction, meaning the buyer may neither reuse nor resell the cartridge after the toner has run out. Lexmark sells these cartridges both domestically in the U.S. and abroad. In 2014, Lexmark sued Impression Products for patent infringement. Impression Products had previously: (1) bought domestically-sold Return Program Cartridges, modified by third parties to allow refilling, and resold them in the U.S.; and (2) imported and resold both Regular and Return Program Cartridges from foreign markets. Lexmark maintained both of these actions infringed their U.S. patent rights under § 271 of the Patent Act. Impression argued that both of these acts were non-infringing due to the Patent Exhaustion doctrine, which holds that “the initial authorized sale of a patented item terminates all patent rights to that item.” Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc., 553 U.S. 617, 625 (2008). John Golden has discussed the case in a prior New Private Law Blog post.

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Harvard Law School’s Private Law Workshop: Oren Bar-Gill & Ariel Porat, Disclosure Rules in Contract Law

Post by Patrick Goold

Caveat emptor, or buyer beware, was the traditional principle of Anglo-American contract law. Today, however, many common law jurisdictions require the seller to disclose material information to the buyer prior to sale. Nevertheless, the duty to disclose is still subject to debate. Should the law obligate the seller to disclose pertinent information (a mandatory disclosure rule)? Or should disclosure be at the discretion of the seller (a voluntary disclosure rule)? In Disclosure Rules in Contract Law, Oren Bar-Gill and Ariel Porat study how mandatory and voluntary disclosure rules affect sellers’ incentives to invest in pre-sale investigation of goods. Speaking at the final installment of this year’s Private Law Workshop, Oren Bar-Gill explained their conclusion: that mandatory disclosure rules typically, but not always, provide sellers with efficient incentives to acquire socially valuable information regarding the asset.  

Imagine the following example. Having lived in a house for 10 years, the owner suspects there is water beneath the house that might damage its foundations. Before selling the property, the owner could hire a surveyor to investigate whether underground water exists. Whether hiring a surveyor is efficient depends on the value of the information investigation reveals relative to the cost of acquiring it, i.e. hiring the surveyor.

In 1994, Steven Shavell studied how mandatory (MD) and voluntary disclosure (VD) rules affected the incentives of sellers to undertake such investigations. Shavell found that MD rules create efficient incentives, while VD rules do not. If the owner knows that any information the investigation reveals must be disclosed, then he will only invest in the investigation if the expected increase in value to the asset outweighs the cost of the investigation. Conversely, voluntary disclosure rules cause owners to invest too heavily in information-acquisition, on the grounds that any favorable information can be used to demand a higher price, while unfavorable information is simply ignored.

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North American Workshop on Private Law Theory IV

Post by Patrick Goold

Earlier this month, Fordham University School of Law hosted the fourth annual North American Workshop on Private Law Theory (NAWPLT). This edition of NAWPLT—a yearly conference that gathers U.S and Canadian private law scholars to discuss works-in-progress selected by a steering committee—was organized by Fordham Professors Aditi Bagchi and Ben Zipursky.

In twentieth century legal theory, few issues have received more attention than the question: “What is Property?” Eric Claeys, in Property as an Institutional Artifact, defends a revisionist view. To Claeys, property is not merely a form (a bundle of jural relations), but has an essential substantive content: exclusive use. A property right, on this view, confers on one individual the exclusive authority to benefit from or manage a resource. In a related vein, James Stern’s paper, titled Intellectual Property and the Myth of Nonrivalry, argued against the prevailing view that intangible goods are “nonrivalrous.” Insofar as people have incompatible desires about how intangible goods are to be used, they resemble tangible goods, and hence there can be a need for a legal architecture that delegates to one individual the exclusive right to decide how such goods are used.  

In Legal Positivism as an Idea About What Morality Might Be, Martin Stone considered through the lens of tort law another ‘eternal’ question: the relation of law and morality. Taking issue with the view that the distinctiveness of legal positivism resides in its account of the nature of law, Stone maintains that it instead resides in a particular instrumental understanding of the relation of morality to law. In Retaliatory RICO and the Puzzle of Fraudulent Claiming, meanwhile, Nora Engstrom discussed a new technique repeat-player defendants are using to fight fraudulent claims: the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). When it was signed into law in 1970, Congress probably did not envision that RICO’s provisions on bribery, fraud, and obstruction of justice would allow corporate defendants to retaliate against plaintiffs bringing baseless claims to court. Questions remain regarding whether such retaliatory RICO actions can be exercised in a sensible and even-handed manner.

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Harvard Law School’s Private Law Workshop: Patricia McMahon, The Interplay Between Nineteenth Century Codes and the Fusion of Law and Equity

Post by Patrick Goold

Codification of the common law and the fusion of law and equity were two of the most prominent law reform efforts of the nineteenth century. Legal historians have, however, rarely considered the connection between these two movements. At a recent Private Law Workshop, Patricia McMahon tried to map out the interplay between the fusion and codification movements of nineteenth century New York and England. McMahon finds that while often fusion and codification mutually supported each other, there was an inherent tension between the two goals, and this tension has continued relevance for today.

On one level, fusion was a boon to the codification movements. In New York, procedural fusion was accomplished in 1848 with the adoption of the New York Code of Civil Procedure, also known as the Field Code after its principle architect David Dudley Field. Field believed that the codification of procedure was the best way to transition from separate systems of law and equity to one single court. The success of the Field Code for legal procedure proceeded to serve as an example that codes and codification was a realistic possibility. In both New York and England, those wishing to codify the substantive common law pointed to Field’s Code as proof that codes worked!

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Harvard Law School’s Private Law Workshop: Christopher Newman, Hohfeld and the Theory of In Rem Rights: An Attempted Reconciliation

Post by Patrick Goold

Few questions have received more attention in law than the question “What is Property?” Is an in rem right a right over a thing, as the traditional (and perhaps resurgent) view holds? Or is the term “right in rem” an outmoded reference to a bundle of jural relations existing between individuals (as Hohfeld argued almost a century ago)? Is there a way to reconcile these two competing theories—for property to be both a right over a thing and bundle of rights? At this week’s HLS Private Law Workshop, Christopher Newman presented a work-in-progress in which he attempted a reconciliation of these apparently conflicting understandings of in rem rights.

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Harvard Law School’s Private Law Workshop: Nathan Oman, Reconsidering Contractual Consent

Post by Patrick Goold

How important is consent in contract law? Less important than many suppose, says Professor Nathan Oman. At the first HLS Private Law Workshop of the new academic year, Oman presented his current work in progress, Reconsidering Contractual Consent: Why We Shouldn’t Worry Too Much About Boilerplate and Other Puzzles. In this thought-provoking article, Oman argues that robustly voluntary consent to obligations is far less important to the normative defense of contract law than is often assumed.

Oman’s analysis begins with a puzzle. Normative theories of contract tend to suggest that party consent is necessary to justify enforcing contractual obligations. For autonomy theorists, holding parties accountable for commitments to which they have not meaningfully consented interferes with their ability to self-govern. For economists, consent is an important indication that the transaction makes both parties better off. But here’s the paradox: contract law regularly does not require meaningful party consent before enforcing obligations. Many situations exist wherein courts uphold agreements where the parties are almost wholly ignorant of the terms – boilerplate terms providing a familiar example.

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Why Private Law? — Patrick Goold

Post by Patrick Goold

I have a question for the readers of this blog: Why make a distinction between public law and private law? Note, my question is not what is the distinction, but why is it a useful and helpful division to make? Of course, both questions are important and interrelated, but for now, I would like to focus on the latter.

This may be the central question in the New Private Law. Prior private law scholarship has typically fallen into two broad schools. On one hand, there are the Private Law Skeptics, who argue that all law has “public” ends, and ergo all law is public. On the other hand, we find Private Law Disciples, who point to the millennia-old private-public law distinction and assume it will simply continue. New Private Lawyers are different from both traditional camps. We do not take for granted the private-public distinction. Rather, as inclusive pragmatists, we demand to know whether this is a distinction worth retaining. What good does it do us? But, contrary to Private Law Skeptics, most of us, at least intuitively, believe that something is or can be accomplished by retaining the distinction. So the question is: what is that?

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The Analytic Jurisprudence of the New Private Law — Patrick Goold

Post by guest blogger Patrick Goold

Backed by an impressive array of renowned legal scholars, and the subject of a Harvard Law Review symposium, the New Private Law (NPL) project has gripped the attention of jurists throughout the common law world. Yet, despite the attention this enterprise has quickly garnered, there is one curious aspect of the development that remains largely unexamined. That is, in challenging us to “understand private law” on its own terms, much of the NPL project falls within the boundaries of “analytic jurisprudence.” This focus on analytic questions is surprising because of the suspicion, and sometimes hostility, the American legal academy has traditionally shown towards this branch of legal scholarship. Therefore, in this post, I intend to demonstrate how analytic jurisprudence lies at the core of the NPL project and thereafter, to defend NPL’s reliance on analytic methods against some common critiques that will surely be presented sooner or later.

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