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Should good patents come in small packages? A welfare analysis of intellectual property bundling

  • Gilbert, Richard J.
  • Katz, Michael L.

Intellectual property owners often hold the rights to several patents, each of which is essential to make or use a product. We compare the welfare properties of package licenses, under which a licensee pays the same fee regardless of the number of technologies licensed, with component licenses, under which each technology is licensed separately and there is no quantity discount. A central finding is that a long-term package license can induce incentives to invent around patents and invest in complementary assets that are closer to their socially optimal levels than are those induced by a long-term component license. We also identify settings in which a short-term license is a partial substitute for a package license and a prohibition on package licensing induces parties to adopt contracts that result in less efficient complementary investment because of hold-up.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Journal of Industrial Organization.

Volume (Year): 24 (2006)
Issue (Month): 5 (September)
Pages: 931-952

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Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:24:y:2006:i:5:p:931-952
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