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Efficient Patent Pools

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  • Josh Lerner
  • Jean Tirole

Abstract

The paper builds a tractable model of a patent pool, an agreement among patent owners to license a set of their patents to one another or to third parties. It first provides a necessary and suñcient condition for a patent pool to enhance welfare. It shows that requiring pool members to be able to independently license patents matters if and only if the pool is otherwise welfare reducing, a property that allows the antitrust authorities to use this requirement to screen out unattractive pools. The paper then undertakes a number of extensions. It evaluates the external test' according to which patents with substitutes should not be included in a pool; analyzes the welfare implications of the reduction in the members' incentives to invent around or challenge the validity of each other's patents; looks at the rationale for the (common) provision of automatic assignment of future related patents to the pool; and, last, studies the intellectual property owners' incentives to form a pool or to cross-license when they themselves are users of the patents in the pool.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9175.

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Date of creation: Sep 2002
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Publication status: published as Lerner, Josh and Jean Tirole. "Efficient Patent Pools," American Economic Review, 2004, v94(3,Jun), 691-711.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9175

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  1. Hausman, Jerry A & Leonard, Gregory K & Tirole, Jean, 2003. " On Nonexclusive Membership in Competing Joint Ventures," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(1), pages 43-62, Spring.
  2. Carl Shapiro, 2003. "Navigating the Patent Thicket: Cross Licenses, Patent Pools, and Standard-Setting," Law and Economics 0303005, EconWPA.
  3. Vincenzo Denicolo, 2002. "Sequential innovation and the patent-antitrust conflict," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(4), pages 649-668, October.
  4. Josh Lerner & Marcin Strojwas & Jean Tirole, 2007. "The design of patent pools: the determinants of licensing rules," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(3), pages 610-625, 09.
  5. Rasmusen, Eric, 1988. "Entry for Buyout," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(3), pages 281-99, March.
  6. Brueckner, Jan K & Whalen, W Tom, 2000. "The Price Effects of International Airline Alliances," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 503-45, October.
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