Digitalized contract definition and negotiations for the agreement of rights and obligations in electronic auctions

Abstract: Negotiations of different kinds are used to trade goods and services. Within these, the creation of a signed agreement or contract that is binding for the agreeing parties helps also the gathering of evidence that can be used in case of disputes and for adjudication. Traditionally, contracts are established on paper agreements that are signed by all the involved parties and by a law enforcement entity that ensure its legality in a court of law. These contracts have evolved with the introduction of Information Technology (IT) where the negotiation of goods and services is mainly virtual and/or automatized. The consistency and processing time of the computers allow for negotiations to be more efficient than ever. Digitalized negotiations allow for auctioning systems providing a mechanism to efficiently match demand and supply in the exchange of goods and services. Such suctioning systems allow multiple users to iteratively or non-iteratively compete against one another to achieve allocative efficiency. Lately, digitalized auctions are implemented using Blockchain systems with the use of Smart Contracts to archieve decentralization. These are implemented as a digital script that may encode any set of rules written as code, with the validity of the code being enforced by the Blockchain's consensus mechanism. These Smart Contracts computations however tend to be expensive when executed and limited by the blocksize.  This thesis studies the creation of digitized negotiation protocols and contract definition following the needs of traditional trading and auctioning systems. We investigate the use of Ricardian Contracts for flexible representation of rights and obligations of entities in the context of circular economy in both single and multi-attribute auctions. We analyze the implication of digitized agreements in the context of data sharing. Furthermore, we analyze how usage control policies can be represented into Ricardian Contracts in the context of intellectual property protection, compliance with regulations, and digital rights management.Finally, we analyze the properties that a system that supports the mentioned models should have and how to implement it in the context of distributed auctioning systems by contrasting available state-of-the-art. The main contributions of the thesis are: (1) The creation of a multi-attribute auctioning protocol for the circular economy which implements Ricardian Contracts for the representation of rights and obligations. (2) A method to negotiate obligations and access provisions with multi-level Ricardian contracts, and automatically enforce those provisions with access control. (3) A state-of-art analysis on distributed and decentralized auctioning systems where the key properties of auctioning systems are identified and are evaluated against the current implementations.

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