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The software patent experiment

  • Robert 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.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its journal Business Review.

Volume (Year): (2004)
Issue (Month): Q3 ()
Pages: 22-32

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpbr:y:2004:i:q3:p:22-32
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  1. Ashish Arora & Marco Ceccagnoli & Wesley M. Cohen, 2003. "R&D and the Patent Premium," NBER Working Papers 9431, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. James Bessen & Robert M Hunt, 2004. "An Empirical Look at Software Patents," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000000167, David K. Levine.
  3. 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.
  4. James Bessen, 2004. "Patent Thickets: Strategic Patenting of Complex Technologies," Working Papers 0401, Research on Innovation.
  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.
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