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Of Smart Phone Wars and Software Patents

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Author Info

  • Stuart Graham
  • Saurabh Vishnubhakat

Abstract

Among the main criticisms currently confronting the US Patent and Trademark Office are concerns about software patents and what role they play in the web of litigation now proceeding in the smart phone industry. We will examine the evidence on the litigation and the treatment by the Patent Office of patents that include software elements. We present specific empirical evidence regarding the examination by the Patent Office of software patents, their validity, and their role in the smart phone wars. More broadly, this article discusses the competing values at work in the patent system and how the system has dealt with disputes that, like the smart phone wars, routinely erupt over time, in fact dating back to the very founding of the United States. The article concludes with an outlook for systematic policymaking within the patent system in the wake of major recent legislative and administrative reforms. Principally, the article highlights how the US Patent Office acts responsibly when it engages constructively with principled criticisms and calls for reform, as it has during the passage and now implementation of the landmark Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.27.1.67
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 27 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Pages: 67-86

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:27:y:2013:i:1:p:67-86

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.27.1.67
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  1. Trajtenberg, M. & Bresnahan, T.F., 1992. "General Purpose Technologies: "Engines of Growth"," Papers 16-92, Tel Aviv.
  2. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2000. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not)," NBER Working Papers 7552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bronwyn H. Hall & Manuel Trajtenberg, 2004. "Uncovering GPTS with Patent Data," NBER Working Papers 10901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Petra Moser, 2003. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World Fairs," NBER Working Papers 9909, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Ashish Arora & Andrea Fosfuri & Alfonso Gambardella, 2004. "Markets for Technology: The Economics of Innovation and Corporate Strategy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262511819.
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Cited by:
  1. Giovanni Dosi & Joseph Stiglitz, 2013. "The Role of Intellectual Property Rights in the Development Process, with Some Lessons from Developed Countries: An Introduction," LEM Papers Series 2013/23, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  2. Shawn P. Miller & Alexander Tabarrok, 2014. "Ill-Conceived, Even If Competently Administered: Software Patents, Litigation, and Innovation—A Comment on Graham and Vishnubhakat," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 11(1), pages 37-45, January.

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