On the Optimality of the Patent Renewal System
The patent system is mainly a renewal system: the patent life is chosen by the patentee in return for fees. I ask whether such a system can be justified by asymmetric information on costs and benefits of research. In such a model I show that renewal mechanisms (possibly with subsidies) are equivalent to direct revelation mechanisms and therefore cannot be improved on, regardless of the objective function. Under plausible circumstances, patents should have a uniform life, rather than varying in length, as typically occurs under a renewal system.
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Volume (Year): 30 (1999)
Issue (Month): 2 (Summer)
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