Knowledge disclosure as intellectual property rights protection
We consider the problem of an inventor who discloses knowledge under the threat of a rival who may patent a competing idea. Disclosure diminishes the probability that the rival has of receiving a patent (legal externality) but it also decreases the rival’s marginal R&D cost (knowledge externality). Our results reveal that: (i) when the knowledge externality is ‘large’ (‘small’) relative to the legal one, an increase (decrease) in the patentability standard leads to higher disclosure and promotes R&D and (ii) if subsequent research creates positive external effects, the patentability standard should be set to promote further disclosure and R&D in equilibrium. The impact on the equilibrium configuration of changes in market profits is also examined.
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