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Rewarding Sequential Innovators: Prizes, Patents, and Buyouts

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  • Hugo Hopenhayn
  • Gerard Llobet
  • Matthew Mitchell

Abstract

This paper presents a model of cumulative innovation in which firms are heterogeneous in their research ability. We study the optimal reward policy when the quality of the ideas and their subsequent development effort are private information. Monopoly power is a scarce resource to be allocated across innovators who arrive at various times. The optimal assignment of property rights must counterbalance the incentives of current and future innovators. The resulting mechanism resembles a menu of patents that have infinite duration and fixed scope. This optimal patent menu can be implemented with a simple buyout scheme: The innovator commits at the outset to a price ceiling at which he will sell his rights to a future inventor. When a larger fee is paid initially, a higher price ceiling is obtained. Any subsequent innovator must pay this price and purchase his own buyout fee contract. We relate this mechanism to the proposed compulsory licensing schemes.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 114 (2006)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1041-1068

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:114:y:2006:i:6:p:1041-1068

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  1. Richard Gilbert and Carl Shapiro., 1989. "Optimal Patent Length and Breadth," Economics Working Papers 89-102, University of California at Berkeley.
  2. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1999. "On the Optimality of the Patent Renewal System," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 181-196, Summer.
  3. Tandon, Pankaj, 1982. "Optimal Patents with Compulsory Licensing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 470-86, June.
  4. Green, J.R. & Scotchmer, S., 1993. "On the Division of Profit in Sequential Innovation," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1638, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. SHAVELL, Steven & VAN YPERSELE, Tanguy, . "Rewards versus intellectual property rights," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1597, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Ted O'Donoghue & Suzanne Scotchmer & Jacques-François Thisse, 1998. "Patent Breadth, Patent Life, and the Pace of Technological Progress," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(1), pages 1-32, 03.
  7. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1969. "Classificatory Notes on the Production and Transmission of Technological Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 29-35, May.
  8. Wright, Brian Davern, 1983. "The Economics of Invention Incentives: Patents, Prizes, and Research Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 691-707, September.
  9. Suzanne Scotchmer & Jerry Green, 1990. "Novelty and Disclosure in Patent Law," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 131-146, Spring.
  10. Jean Tirole & Jean-Jaques Laffont, 1985. "Using Cost Observation to Regulate Firms," Working papers 368, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Francesca Cornelli & Mark Schankerman, 1999. "Patent Renewals and R&D Incentives," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 197-213, Summer.
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