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An Empirical Look at Software Patents

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  • James Bessen
  • Robert M. Hunt

Abstract

Software patents have grown rapidly in number and now comprise 15% of all patents. They are acquired primarily by large manufacturing firms in industries known for strategic patenting; only 5% belong to software publishers. The very large increase in software patent propensity over time is not adequately explained by changes in R&D investments, employment of computer programmers, or productivity growth. The residual increase in software patent propensity is consistent with a sizeable increase in the cost effectiveness of software patents during the 1990s, perhaps arising from changes in the application of patent law to computer software.

Suggested Citation

  • James Bessen & Robert M. Hunt, 2007. "An Empirical Look at Software Patents," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(1), pages 157-189, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:16:y:2007:i:1:p:157-189
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-9134.2007.00136.x
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