IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Optimal Rules For Patent Races

  • By Kenneth L. Judd
  • Karl Schmedders
  • Şevin Yeltekin

There are two important rules in a patent race: what an innovator must accomplish to receive the patent and the allocation of the benefits that flow from the innovation. Most patent races end before R&D is completed and the prize to the innovator is often less than the social benefit of the innovation. We study the optimal combination of prize and minimal accomplishment necessary to obtain a patent in a dynamic multistage innovation race. A planner, who cannot distinguish between competing firms, chooses the innovation stage at which the patent is awarded and the magnitude of the prize to the winner. We examine both social surplus and consumer surplus maximizing patent race rules. We show that a key consideration is the efficiency costs of transfers and of monopoly power to the patentholder. We show that races are undesirable only when efficiency costs are low, firms have similar technologies, and the planner maximizes social surplus. However, in all other circumstances, the optimal policy spurs innovative effort through a race of nontrivial duration. Races are also used to filter out inferior innovators.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association in its journal International Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 53 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (02)
Pages: 23-52

in new window

Handle: RePEc:wly:iecrev:v:53:y:2012:i:1:p:23-52
Contact details of provider: Postal: 160 McNeil Building, 3718 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
Phone: (215) 898-8487
Fax: (215) 573-2057
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Richard Gilbert and Carl Shapiro., 1989. "Optimal Patent Length and Breadth," Economics Working Papers 89-102, University of California at Berkeley.
  2. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Mitchell, Matthew F, 2001. "Innovation Variety and Patent Breadth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 152-66, Spring.
  3. Kamien,Morton I. & Schwartz,Nancy L., 1982. "Market Structure and Innovation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521293853, October.
  4. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:94:y:1980:i:2:p:429-36 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Ariel Pakes & Paul McGuire, 1992. "Computing Markov Perfect Nash Equilibria: Numerical Implications of a Dynamic Differentiated Product Model," NBER Technical Working Papers 0119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Kenneth L. Judd, 1998. "Numerical Methods in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100711, June.
  7. Fudenberg, Drew & Gilbert, Richard & Stiglitz, Joseph & Tirole, Jean, 1983. "Preemption, leapfrogging and competition in patent races," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-31, June.
  8. Reinganum, Jennifer F., . "Dynamic Games of Innovation," Working Papers 287, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  9. Gene M. Grossman & Carl Shapiro, 1985. "Optimal Dynamic R&D Programs," NBER Working Papers 1658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Klemperer, Paul, 1990. "How Broad Should the Scope of Patent Protection Be?," CEPR Discussion Papers 392, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Harris, Christopher & Vickers, John, 1985. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Model of a Race," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 193-209, April.
  12. Harris, Christopher J & Vickers, John S, 1985. "Patent Races and the Persistence of Monopoly," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(4), pages 461-81, June.
  13. Denicolo, Vincenzo, 1999. "The optimal life of a patent when the timing of innovation is stochastic," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 827-846, August.
  14. Dasgupta, Partha, 1988. "Patents, Priority and Imitation or, the Economics of Races and Waiting Games," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(389), pages 66-80, March.
  15. Harris, Christopher & Vickers, John, 1987. "Racing with Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 1-21, January.
  16. Reinganum, Jennifer F., 1989. "The timing of innovation: Research, development, and diffusion," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 14, pages 849-908 Elsevier.
  17. Kenneth L. Judd, 2003. "Closed-loop equilibrium in a multi-stage innovation race," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 673-695, 03.
  18. Dasgupta, Partha & Stiglitz, Joseph, 1980. "Industrial Structure and the Nature of Innovative Activity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(358), pages 266-93, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wly:iecrev:v:53:y:2012:i:1:p:23-52. 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: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing)

or ()

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.