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Of Smart Phone Wars and Software Patents

Author

Listed:
  • Stuart Graham
  • Saurabh Vishnubhakat

Abstract

Among the main criticisms currently confronting the US Patent and Trademark Office are concerns about software patents and what role they play in the web of litigation now proceeding in the smart phone industry. We will examine the evidence on the litigation and the treatment by the Patent Office of patents that include software elements. We present specific empirical evidence regarding the examination by the Patent Office of software patents, their validity, and their role in the smart phone wars. More broadly, this article discusses the competing values at work in the patent system and how the system has dealt with disputes that, like the smart phone wars, routinely erupt over time, in fact dating back to the very founding of the United States. The article concludes with an outlook for systematic policymaking within the patent system in the wake of major recent legislative and administrative reforms. Principally, the article highlights how the US Patent Office acts responsibly when it engages constructively with principled criticisms and calls for reform, as it has during the passage and now implementation of the landmark Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011.

Suggested Citation

  • Stuart Graham & Saurabh Vishnubhakat, 2013. "Of Smart Phone Wars and Software Patents," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(1), pages 67-86, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:27:y:2013:i:1:p:67-86
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.27.1.67
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.27.1.67
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Trajtenberg, M., 1995. "General purpose technologies 'Engines of growth'?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 83-108, January.
    2. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
    3. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2000. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not)," NBER Working Papers 7552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Ashish Arora & Andrea Fosfuri & Alfonso Gambardella, 2004. "Markets for Technology: The Economics of Innovation and Corporate Strategy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262511819, January.
    5. Bronwyn H. Hall & Manuel Trajtenberg, 2004. "Uncovering GPTS with Patent Data," NBER Working Papers 10901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chryssoula Pentheroudakis, 2015. "Innovation in the European Digital Single Market: The Role of Patents," JRC Working Papers JRC96728, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    2. Shawn P. Miller & Alexander Tabarrok, 2014. "Ill-Conceived, Even If Competently Administered: Software Patents, Litigation, and Innovation—A Comment on Graham and Vishnubhakat," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 11(1), pages 37-45, January.
    3. Dietmar Harhoff & Georg von Graevenitz & Stefan Wagner, 2016. "Conflict Resolution, Public Goods, and Patent Thickets," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(3), pages 704-721, March.
    4. Douglas Hanley, 2015. "Innovation, Technological Interdependence, and Economic Growth," 2015 Meeting Papers 1491, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Stefano Comino & Fabio M. Manenti & NIkolaus Thumm, 2017. "The Role of Patents in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). A survey of the Literature," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0212, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    6. Alexandrov, Alexei & Pittman, Russell & Ukhaneva, Olga, 2017. "Royalty stacking in the U.S. freight railroads: Cournot vs. Coase," MPRA Paper 78249, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Yael V. Hochberg & Carlos J. Serrano & Rosemarie H. Ziedonis, 2014. "Patent Collateral, Investor Commitment, and the Market for Venture Lending," NBER Working Papers 20587, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Yael V. Hochberg & Carlos J. Serrano & Rosemarie H. Ziedonis, 2014. "Patent collateral investor commitment and the market for venture lending," Economics Working Papers 1448, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    9. repec:pit:wpaper:533 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Yael V. Hochberg & Carlos Serrano & Rosemarie H. Ziedonis, 2014. "Patent Collateral, Investor Commitment, and the Market for Venture Lending," Working Papers 792, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    11. Giovanni Dosi & Joseph Stiglitz, 2013. "The Role of Intellectual Property Rights in the Development Process, with Some Lessons from Developed Countries: An Introduction," LEM Papers Series 2013/23, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • L63 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Microelectronics; Computers; Communications Equipment
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • 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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