Regulating Innovation: Law and the Creative District

We will investigate the relationship between law and innovation in our newly globalized era. We will draw on well-documented innovative districts in Montreal and Silicon Valley to assess how law promotes or hinders such innovation. We will consider emerging initiatives such as the Blueseed startup community, which is a proposed un-regulated innovation zone to be located in international waters in order to avoid national regulatory compliance regimes.

Innovation, for the purposes of this project, will be defined as the creation and development of new ideas, products, and methodology–particularly within the technology industry. This industry’s reliance on intangibles to create value has created a new paradigm for property law and has prompted both a worldwide competition for capital and the ability for corporations to essentially opt-out of taxes and legal regimes that are unfavourable to their revenue streams. The state has accordingly responded in an effort to reap the advantages of capital inflow and to concurrently restrict the benefits offered to corporations to those contemplated by the legislature.

Our main focus will be how state regulation affects innovation. States often use tax incentives to lure businesses in, with the hope of future benefits from increased employment, consumer spending and other spillovers. We will ask if tax incentives are really determinative with regard to a corporation’s decision to move to a given jurisdiction and if the anti-abuse measures in place are adequate to control the scope of the incentives. From a property perspective, the state regulates innovation directly through patent law, and indirectly by controlling the dissemination of knowledge and know-how through non-compete covenants. With respect to this aspect, we will ask if the current allocation of property rights and knowledge sharing controls is still relevant in our open-access era, and if such regulation is conducive to sustained innovation.

Faculty Supervisor:

Allison Christians








McGill University



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