We live in a world of information. But paradoxically, we simultaneously suffer from a scarcity of “smart” information: information that is traceable and therefore reliable, trust-worthy, and ultimately verifiable. Combining the insights of global governance theory with behavioral economics, this Article approaches this challenge from a knowledge governance framework, sets forth various reasons for this unnecessary deficit and proposes an intervention to address it — tracermarks. Envisioned as a hybrid of trademarks and certification marks, tracermarks would encourage various stakeholders to disclose, disseminate and ultimately make decisions about previously hidden qualities of specific goods and services throughout global value networks. Digital networks have tremendous potential to combine with other kinds of technologies (e.g., QR or UPC codes, smart phone apps, and other intermediaries and platforms), and thus to contribute to the production and distribution of smart information about specific goods and services. Improving the capacity for meaningful consumer and producer choices through smart information would also increase net social welfare through innovation, which is a primary public policy goal of intellectual property.
Tracermarks: A Proposed Information Intervention, 53 Hous. L. Rev. 421