Optimal Rules for Patent Races
AbstractThere 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 InfoPaper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1343.
Date of creation: Apr 2002
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- NEP-ALL-2002-06-13 (All new papers)
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