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Prior art: To search or not to search

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  • Atal, Vidya
  • Bar, Talia

Abstract

To determine patentability, inventions are evaluated in light of existing prior art. Innovators have a duty to disclose any prior art that they are aware of, but have no obligation to search. We study innovators' incentives to search for prior art, their search intensities and the timing of search. We distinguish between early state of the art search--conducted before R&D investment, and novelty search--conducted right before applying for a patent. We identify conditions in which innovators have no incentive to search for prior art. Search intensity increases with R&D cost, the examiners' expected search effort, and with patenting fees. We also find that innovators prefer to correlate their search technology with that of the patent office. In light of our model, we discuss the implications of some proposed policy reforms.

Suggested Citation

  • Atal, Vidya & Bar, Talia, 2010. "Prior art: To search or not to search," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 507-521, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:28:y:2010:i:5:p:507-521
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:bla:jinfst:v:68:y:2017:i:6:p:1360-1374 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Langinier, Corinne & Marcoul, Phillipe, 2009. "Search of Prior Art and Revelation of Information by Patent Applicants," Working Papers 2009-21, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    3. Andrew Eckert & Corinne Langinier, 2014. "A Survey Of The Economics Of Patent Systems And Procedures," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(5), pages 996-1015, December.
    4. Adam B. Jaffe & Gaétan de Rassenfosse, 2017. "Patent citation data in social science research: Overview and best practices," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 68(6), pages 1360-1374, June.
    5. Corinne Langinier & Philippe Marcoul, 2016. "The Search of Prior Art and the Revelation of Information by Patent Applicants," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 49(3), pages 399-427, November.
    6. Langinier, Corinne & Marcoul, Phillipe, 2009. "Monetary and Implicit Incentives of Patent Examiners," Working Papers 2009-22, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.
    7. Johnson, Justin P., 2014. "Defensive publishing by a leading firm," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 15-27.

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