IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The software patent experiment


  • Robert M. Hunt
  • James Bessen


Over the past two decades, the scope of technologies that can be patented has been expanded to include many items previously thought unsuitable for patenting, for example, computer software. Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants 20,000 or more software patents a year. Conventional wisdom holds that extending patent protection to computer programs will stimulate research and development and, thus, increase the rate of innovation. In "The Software Patent Experiment," Bob Hunt and Jim Bessen investigate whether this has, in fact, happened. They describe the spectacular growth in software patenting, who obtains patents, and the relationship between a sharp focus on software patenting and firms' investment in R&D.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert M. Hunt & James Bessen, 2004. "The software patent experiment," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q3, pages 22-32.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpbr:y:2004:i:q3:p:22-32

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arora, Ashish & Ceccagnoli, Marco & Cohen, Wesley M., 2008. "R&D and the patent premium," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 1153-1179, September.
    2. James Bessen, 2004. "Patent Thickets: Strategic Patenting of Complex Technologies," Working Papers 0401, Research on Innovation.
    3. 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.
    4. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2000. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not)," NBER Working Papers 7552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Nancy T. Gallini, 2002. "The Economics of Patents: Lessons from Recent U.S. Patent Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 131-154, Spring.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Encaoua, David & Guellec, Dominique & Martinez, Catalina, 2006. "Patent systems for encouraging innovation: Lessons from economic analysis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(9), pages 1423-1440, November.
    2. Emmanuel Duguet & Claire Lelarge, 2004. "Les brevets incitent-ils les entreprises industrielles à innover ?," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 380(1), pages 35-61.
    3. HansK. Hvide, 2009. "The Quality of Entrepreneurs," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(539), pages 1010-1035, July.
    4. Isabelle Liotard, 2007. "Les nouvelles facettes de la propriété intellectuelle : stratégies, attaques et menaces," Post-Print hal-00196848, HAL.
    5. Sebastian von Engelhardt & Sushmita Swaminathan, 2008. "Open Source Software, Closed Source Software or Both: Impacts on Industry Growth and the Role of Intellectual Property Rights," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 799, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Robert M. Hunt, 2007. "Economics and the design of patent systems," Working Papers 07-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    7. repec:crs:ecosta:es380b is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Hvide, Hans K., 2004. "Firm Size and the Quality of Entrepreneurs," Discussion Papers 2004/9, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Business and Management Science.
    9. Seppä, Arto, 2006. "Open Source in Finnish Software Companies," Discussion Papers 1002, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.

    More about this item




    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedpbr:y:2004:i:q3:p:22-32. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Beth Paul). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.