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Rewarding Sequential Innovators: Prizes, Patents and Buyouts

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  • Gerard Llobet
  • Hugo Hopenhayn
  • Matthew Mitchell

Abstract

This paper presents a model of cumulative innovation where firms are heterogeneous in their research ability. We study the optimal reward policy when the quality of the ideas and their subsequent development effort are private information. The optimal assignment of property rights must counterbalance the incentives of current and future innovators. The resulting mechanism resembles a menu of patents that have infinite duration and fixed scope, where the latter increases in the value of the idea. Finally, we provide a way to implement this patent menu by using a simple buyout scheme: The innovator commits at the outset to a price ceiling at which he will sell his rights to a future inventor. By paying a larger fee initially, a higher price ceiling is obtained. Any subsequent innovator must pay this price and purchase its own buyout fee contract.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerard Llobet & Hugo Hopenhayn & Matthew Mitchell, 2000. "Rewarding Sequential Innovators: Prizes, Patents and Buyouts," Working Papers wp2000_0012, CEMFI.
  • Handle: RePEc:cmf:wpaper:wp2000_0012
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jerry R. Green & Suzanne Scotchmer, 1995. "On the Division of Profit in Sequential Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(1), pages 20-33, Spring.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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