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The Economics of Patents: Lessons from Recent U.S. Patent Reform

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  • Nancy T. Gallini

Abstract

U.S. patent reform over the past two decades has strengthened the legal enforcement of patent rights and has extended protection to new subject matter, such as genetically engineered life forms and business methods. This paper highlights these and other policy changes and the debate that this apparent increase in protection has sparked. While the case for stronger patents as a spur to innovation is a weak one, as revealed by recent theoretical and empirical research, evidence that they encourage disclosure and technology transfer is persuasive. The paper discusses the social costs and benefits of these effects from the policy changes and proposals for alleviating the costs through further patent reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Nancy T. Gallini, 2002. "The Economics of Patents: Lessons from Recent U.S. Patent Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 131-154, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:16:y:2002:i:2:p:131-154 Note: DOI: 10.1257/0895330027292
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