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Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation: Evidence from Health Care Markets

Listed author(s):
  • Heidi L. Williams

A long theoretical literature has analyzed optimal patent policy design, yet there is very little empirical evidence on a key parameter needed to apply these models in practice: the relationship between patent strength and research investments. I argue that the dearth of empirical evidence on this question reflects two key challenges: the difficulty of measuring specific research investments and the fact that finding variation in patent protection is difficult. I then summarize the findings of two recent studies that have made progress in starting to overcome these empirical challenges by combining new data sets measuring biomedical research investments with novel sources of variation in the effective intellectual property protection provided to different inventions. The first study, Budish, Roin, and Williams (2015a), documents evidence consistent with patents affecting the rate and direction of research investments in the context of cancer drug development. The second study, Williams (2013), documents evidence that one form of intellectual property rights on the human genome had quantitatively important impacts on follow-on scientific research and commercial development. I discuss the relevance of both studies for patent policy and discuss directions for future research.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/684986
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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/684986
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Innovation Policy and the Economy.

Volume (Year): 16 (2016)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 53-87

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:ipolec:doi:10.1086/684986
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  1. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
  2. Mark Duggan & Craig Garthwaite & Aparajita Goyal, 2016. "The Market Impacts of Pharmaceutical Product Patents in Developing Countries: Evidence from India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(1), pages 99-135, January.
  3. Philippe Aghion & Mathias Dewatripont & Jeremy C. Stein, 2008. "Academic freedom, private-sector focus, and the process of innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(3), pages 617-635.
  4. Sakakibara, Mariko & Branstetter, Lee, 2001. "Do Stronger Patents Induce More Innovation? Evidence from the 1988 Japanese Patent Law Reforms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 77-100, Spring.
  5. Pierre Dubois & Olivier de Mouzon & Fiona Scott-Morton & Paul Seabright, 2015. "Market size and pharmaceutical innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(4), pages 844-871, October.
  6. Heidi L. Williams, 2013. "Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation: Evidence from the Human Genome," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(1), pages 1-27.
  7. Boldrin,Michele & Levine,David K., 2010. "Against Intellectual Monopoly," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521127264, March.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Linn, 2004. "Market Size in Innovation: Theory and Evidence from the Pharmaceutical Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 1049-1090.
  9. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
  10. Paul Klemperer, 1990. "How Broad Should the Scope of Patent Protection Be?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 113-130, Spring.
  11. Amy Finkelstein, 2004. "Static and Dynamic Effects of Health Policy: Evidence from the Vaccine Industry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 527-564.
  12. Richard Gilbert & Carl Shapiro, 1990. "Optimal Patent Length and Breadth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 106-112, Spring.
  13. Scherer, F M, 1972. "Nordhaus' Theory of Optimal Patent Life: A Geometric Reinterpretation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(3), pages 422-427, June.
  14. Margaret K. Kyle & Anita M. McGahan, 2012. "Investments in Pharmaceuticals Before and After TRIPS," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 1157-1172, November.
  15. Blume-Kohout, Margaret E. & Sood, Neeraj, 2013. "Market size and innovation: Effects of Medicare Part D on pharmaceutical research and development," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 327-336.
  16. James Bessen & Eric Maskin, 2009. "Sequential innovation, patents, and imitation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 611-635.
  17. Margaret Kyle & Yi Qian, 2014. "Intellectual Property Rights and Access to Innovation: Evidence from TRIPS," NBER Working Papers 20799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Yin, Wesley, 2008. "Market incentives and pharmaceutical innovation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 1060-1077, July.
  19. Eric Budish & Benjamin N. Roin & Heidi Williams, 2015. "Do Firms Underinvest in Long-Term Research? Evidence from Cancer Clinical Trials," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(7), pages 2044-2085, July.
  20. Alberto Galasso & Mark Schankerman, 2014. "Patents and Cumulative Innovation: Causal Evidence from the Courts," NBER Working Papers 20269, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Murray, Fiona & Stern, Scott, 2007. "Do formal intellectual property rights hinder the free flow of scientific knowledge?: An empirical test of the anti-commons hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 648-687, August.
  22. Fiona E. Murray & Scott Stern, 2007. "Do Formal Intellectual Property Rights Hinder the Free Flow of Scientific Knowledge?: An Empirical Test of the Anti-Commons Hypothesis," NBER Chapters,in: Academic Science and Entrepreneurship: Dual Engines of Growth National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1991. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 29-41, Winter.
  24. Bhaven Sampat & Heidi L. Williams, 2015. "How Do Patents Affect Follow-On Innovation? Evidence from the Human Genome," NBER Working Papers 21666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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