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150 Years of Patent Office Practice

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  • Josh Lerner

Abstract

An extensive theoretical literature has examined the impact of information problems on interactions between government bodies and private firms. One little-explored empirical testing ground is the patent system. This paper examines the administrative practices of patent offices in sixty countries over a 150-year period. I show that the usage of patent renewal fees and other mechanisms to grant discretion to patentees is consistent with theoretical suggestions. Nations where information asymmetries between government officials and patentees are likely to be more prevalent-larger countries, wealthier economies, and those where international trade is more important-incorporate discretionary features into their patent systems more frequently. I also find evidence that policymakers are more likely to restrict patent office officials' flexibility and to divide the responsibility for determining patentability between the patent office and the courts when information problems are likely to be severe.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7477.

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Date of creation: Jan 2000
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Publication status: published as Josh Lerner, 2005. "150 Years of Patent Office Practice," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(1), pages 112-143.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7477

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  1. Tirole, J., 1993. "The Internal Organization of Government," Working papers 93-11, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Jean-Jacques Laffont & David Martimort, 1999. "Separation of Regulators Against Collusive Behavior," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 232-262, Summer.
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  6. Loeb, Martin & Magat, Wesley A, 1979. "A Decentralized Method for Utility Regulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 399-404, October.
  7. Josh Lerner, 2002. "150 Years of Patent Protection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 221-225, May.
  8. Landes, William M & Posner, Richard A, 1975. "The Independent Judiciary in an Interest-Group Perspective," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 875-901, December.
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  11. Daniel F. Spulber, 1989. "Regulation and Markets," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262192756, December.
  12. 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.
  13. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Tirole, Jean, 1986. "Using Cost Observation to Regulate Firms," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 614-41, June.
  14. Tracy R. Lewis & David E.M. Sappington, 1989. "Regulatory Options and Price-Cap Regulation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(3), pages 405-416, Autumn.
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  16. McCubbins, Mathew D & Noll, Roger G & Weingast, Barry R, 1987. "Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 243-77, Fall.
  17. Noll, Roger G., 1989. "Economic perspectives on the politics of regulation," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1253-1287 Elsevier.
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Cited by:
  1. Shiyuan Pan & Heng-fu Zou & Tailong Li, 2010. "Patent Protection, Technological Change and Wage Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 437, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  2. Alfons Palangkaraya & Paul H. Jensen & Elizabeth Webster, 2005. "Determinants of International Patent Examination Outcomes," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2005n06, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  3. Chen, Qiang, 2008. "The effect of patent laws on invention rates: Evidence from cross-country panels," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 694-704, December.
  4. Iain M. Cockburn & Samuel Kortum & Scott Stern, 2002. "Are All Patent Examiners Equal? The Impact of Examiner Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 8980, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Samaniego, Roberto M., 2013. "Knowledge spillovers and intellectual property rights," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 50-63.

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