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Patenting in the shadow of independent discoveries by rivals

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  • Zhang, Tianle

Abstract

This paper studies the decision of whether to apply for a patent in a dynamic model in which firms innovate stochastically and independently. In the model, a firm can choose between patenting and maintaining secrecy to protect a successful innovation. I consider a legal environment characterized by imperfect patent protection and no prior user rights. Thus, patenting grants probabilistic protection, and secrecy is effectively maintained until rivals innovate. I show that (1) firms that innovate early are more inclined to choose secrecy, whereas firms that innovate late have a stronger tendency to patent; (2) the incentives to patent increase with the innovation arrival rate; and (3) an increase in the number of firms may cause patenting to occur earlier or later, depending on the strength of patent protection. The socially optimal level of patent protection, which balances the trade-off between the provision of patenting incentives and the avoidance of deadweight loss caused by a monopoly, is lower with a higher innovation arrival rate or a larger number of firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhang, Tianle, 2012. "Patenting in the shadow of independent discoveries by rivals," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 41-49.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:30:y:2012:i:1:p:41-49 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijindorg.2011.05.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Crass, Dirk & Garcia Valero, Francisco & Pitton, Francesco & Rammer, Christian, 2016. "Protecting innovation through patents and trade secrets: Determinants and performance impacts for firms with a single innovation," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-061, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    2. Gabrovski, Miroslav, 2015. "The Patent System as a Tool for Eroding Market Power," MPRA Paper 81330, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Sep 2017.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Patenting decisions; Patents; Secrecy; Independent discoveries;

    JEL classification:

    • 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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