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Sequential Innovation and Optimal Patent Design

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  • Christian Riis
  • Xianwen Shi

Abstract

We study optimal patent design in a setting with sequential innovation. Firms innovate by undertaking "research" activities to generate new ideas and by undertaking "development" activities to transform these ideas into viable products. Both innovation incentives and the welfare costs of patent monopoly are multidimensional. We characterize optimal patent policy, and in particular, the tradeoff between patent length and patent breadth in this setting. The optimal size of the patent reward is smaller for patents associated with a higher deadweight loss. For a given reward size, a better patent that generates higher social surplus is shorter but broader. The optimal patent length may be finite or infinite.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number tecipa-447.

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Length: Unknown pages
Date of creation: 08 Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-447

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Related research

Keywords: sequential innovation; patent length; patent breadth; incentives; mechanism design;

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  1. Erkal, Nisvan & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 2009. "Scarcity of Ideas and R&D Options: Use it, Lose it, or Bank it," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt74c709qr, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  2. Kremer, Michael R., 1998. "Patent Buyouts: A Mechanism for Encouraging Innovation," Scholarly Articles 3693705, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Gerard Llobet & Hugo Hopenhayn & Matthew Mitchell, 2003. "Rewarding Sequential Innovators: Prizes, Patents and Buyouts," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000682, David K. Levine.
  4. Richard Gilbert & Carl Shapiro, 1990. "Optimal Patent Length and Breadth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 106-112, Spring.
  5. 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.
  6. Nicholas Bloom & Christos Genakos & Raffaella Sadun & John Van Reenen, 2012. "Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," NBER Working Papers 17850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hugo Hopenhayn & Matthew Mitchell, 2010. "OptimalPatent Policy with Recurrent Innovators," 2010 Meeting Papers 1313, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Tandon, Pankaj, 1982. "Optimal Patents with Compulsory Licensing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 470-86, June.
  9. Paul Klemperer, 1990. "How Broad Should the Scope of Patent Protection Be?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 113-130, Spring.
  10. Albert Banal-Estañol & Inés Macho-Stadler, 2010. "Scientific and Commercial Incentives in R&D: Research versus Development?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 185-221, 03.
  11. Ted O'Donoghue, 1997. "A Patentability Requirement For Sequential Innovation," Discussion Papers 1185, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  12. Howard F. Chang, 1995. "Patent Scope, Antitrust Policy, and Cumulative Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(1), pages 34-57, Spring.
  13. Yuliy Sannikov, 2008. "A Continuous-Time Version of the Principal-Agent Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 957-984.
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