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Optimal Rules for Patent Races

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  • Kenneth Judd
  • Karl Schmedders

Abstract

There are two important rules in a patent race: what an innovator must accomplish to receive the patent and the allocation of the benefits that flow from the innovation. Most patent races end before R&D is completed and the prize to the innovator is often less than the social benefit of the innovation. We study the optimal combination of prize and minimal accomplishment necessary to obtain a patent in a dynamic multistage innovation race. A planner, who cannot distinguish between competing firms, chooses the innovation stage at which the patent is awarded and the magnitude of the prize to the winner. We examine both social surplus and consumer surplus maximizing patent race rules. We show that a key consideration is the efficiency costs of transfers and of monopoly power to the patentholder. We show that races are undesirable only when efficiency costs are low, firms have similar technologies, and the planner maximizes social surplus. However, in all other circumstances, the optimal policy spurs innovative effort through a race of nontrivial duration. Races are also used to filter out inferior innovators.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1343.

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Date of creation: Apr 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1343

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References

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  1. Fudenberg, Drew & Gilbert, Richard & Stiglitz, Joseph & Tirole, Jean, 1983. "Preemption, leapfrogging and competition in patent races," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-31, June.
  2. Harris, Christopher & Vickers, John, 1985. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Model of a Race," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 193-209, April.
  3. Denicolo, Vincenzo, 1999. "The optimal life of a patent when the timing of innovation is stochastic," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 827-846, August.
  4. Dasgupta, Partha, 1988. "Patents, Priority and Imitation or, the Economics of Races and Waiting Games," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(389), pages 66-80, March.
  5. Kenneth L. Judd, 1985. "Closed-Loop Equilibrium in a Multi-Stage Innovation Race," Discussion Papers 647, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  6. Harris, Christopher & Vickers, John, 1987. "Racing with Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 1-21, January.
  7. Gene M. Grossman & Carl Shapiro, 1986. "Optimal Dynamic R&D Programs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(4), pages 581-593, Winter.
  8. Richard Gilbert & Carl Shapiro, 1990. "Optimal Patent Length and Breadth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 106-112, Spring.
  9. Dasgupta, Partha & Stiglitz, Joseph, 1980. "Industrial Structure and the Nature of Innovative Activity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 266-93, June.
  10. Ariel Pakes & Paul McGuire, 1992. "Computing Markov perfect Nash equilibria: numerical implications of a dynamic differentiated product model," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 58, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. Klemperer, Paul, 1990. "How Broad Should the Scope of Patent Protection Be?," CEPR Discussion Papers 392, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Kenneth L. Judd, 1998. "Numerical Methods in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100711, December.
  13. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Mitchell, Matthew F, 2001. "Innovation Variety and Patent Breadth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 152-66, Spring.
  14. Reinganum, Jennifer F., 1989. "The timing of innovation: Research, development, and diffusion," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 849-908 Elsevier.
  15. Reinganum, Jennifer F., 1981. "Dynamic games of innovation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 21-41, August.
  16. Harris, Christopher J & Vickers, John S, 1985. "Patent Races and the Persistence of Monopoly," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(4), pages 461-81, June.
  17. Lee, Tom & Wilde, Louis L, 1980. "Market Structure and Innovation: A Reformulation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 429-36, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Weintraub, Gabriel Y. & Benkard, C. Lanier & Van Roy, Benjamin, 2007. "Markov Perfect Industry Dynamics with Many Firms," Research Papers 1919r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  2. Malerba, Franco, 2007. "Innovation and the dynamics and evolution of industries: Progress and challenges," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 675-699, August.
  3. Ron N. Borkovsky & Ulrich Doraszelski & Yaroslav Kryukov, . "A User''s Guide to Solving Dynamic Stochastic Games Using the Homotopy Method," GSIA Working Papers 2009-E23, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  4. Derek Clark & Christian Riis, 2007. "Contingent payments in selection contests," Review of Economic Design, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 125-137, September.
  5. Fershtman, Chaim & Markovich, Sarit, 2006. "Patents, Imitation and Licensing in an Asymmetric Dynamic R&D Race," CEPR Discussion Papers 5481, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Weintraub, Gabriel Y. & Benkard, C. Lanier & Van Roy, Benjamin, 2007. "Computational Methods for Oblivious Equilibrium," Research Papers 1969, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  7. Borkovsky, RON N. & Doraszelski, Ulrich & Kryukov, Yaroslav, 2008. "A User's Guide to Solving Dynamic Stochastic Games Using the Homotopy Method," CEPR Discussion Papers 6733, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Yuan, Michael Y., 2005. "Does decrease in copying cost support copyright term extension?," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 471-494, October.
  9. Gabriel Weintraub & C. Lanier Benkard & Ben Van Roy, 2005. "Markov Perfect Industry Dynamics with Many Firms," NBER Working Papers 11900, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Gabriel Y. Weintraub & C. Lanier Benkard & Benjamin Van Roy, 2005. "Markov perfect industry dynamics with many firms," Working Paper Series 2005-23, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

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