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How Strong Are Weak Patents?

Author

Listed:
  • Joseph Farrell
  • Carl Shapiro

Abstract

We study the welfare economics of probabilistic patents that are licensed without a full determination of validity. We examine the social value of instead determining patent validity before licensing to downstream technology users, in terms of deadweight loss (ex post) and innovation incentives (ex ante). We relate the value of such pre-licensing review to the patent's strength, i.e., the probability it would hold up in court, and to the per-unit royalty at which it would be licensed. We then apply these results using a game-theoretic model of licensing to downstream oligopolists, in which we show that determining patent validity prior to licensing is socially beneficial. (JEL D82, K11, L24, O34 )

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Farrell & Carl Shapiro, 2008. "How Strong Are Weak Patents?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1347-1369, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:4:p:1347-69
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.4.1347
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Michael J. Meurer, 1989. "The Settlement of Patent Litigation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(1), pages 77-91, Spring.
    2. Michael L. Katz & Carl Shapiro, 1986. "How to License Intangible Property," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 567-589.
    3. Patrick Rey & Thibaud Vergé, 2004. "Bilateral Control with Vertical Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(4), pages 728-746, Winter.
    4. Benjamin Chiao & Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2007. "The rules of standard-setting organizations: an empirical analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 38(4), pages 905-930, December.
    5. Joseph Farrell & Carl Shapiro, 1990. "Asset Ownership and Market Structure in Oligopoly," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(2), pages 275-292, Summer.
    6. Anand, Bharat N & Khanna, Tarun, 2000. "The Structure of Licensing Contracts," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 103-135, March.
    7. Choi, Jay Pil, 1998. "Patent Litigation as an Information-Transmission Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1249-1263, December.
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    9. McAfee, R Preston & Schwartz, Marius, 1994. "Opportunism in Multilateral Vertical Contracting: Nondiscrimination, Exclusivity, and Uniformity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 210-230, March.
    10. Jay Pil Choi, 2005. "Live and Let Live: A Tale of Weak Patents," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 724-733, 04/05.
    11. Reiko Aoki & Jin-Li Hu, 1999. "Licensing vs. Litigation: The Effect of the Legal System on Incentives to Innovate," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(1), pages 133-160, March.
    12. Chun-Hsiung Liao & Debapriya Sen, 2005. "Subsidy In Licensing: Optimality And Welfare Implications," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 73(3), pages 281-299, June.
    13. Ilya Segal, 1999. "Contracting with Externalities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 337-388.
    14. Marco, Alan C., 2005. "Learning by Suing: Structural Estimates of Court Errors in Patent Litigation," Vassar College Department of Economics Working Paper Series 68, Vassar College Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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