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Patent Screening, Innovation, and Welfare

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  • Schankerman, Mark
  • Schuett, Florian

Abstract

Critics claim that patent screening is ineffective, granting low-quality patents that impose unnecessary social costs. We develop an integrated framework, involving patent office examination, fees, and endogenous validity challenges in the courts, to study patent screening both theoretically and quantitatively. In our model, some inventions require the patent incentive while others do not, and asymmetric information creates a need for screening. We show that the endogeneity of challenges implies that courts, even if perfect, cannot solve the screening problem. Simulations of the model, calibrated on U.S. data, indicate that screening is highly imperfect, with about forty percent of all patents issued on inventions that do not require the patent incentive. While we find that the current patent system generates positive social value, intensifying examination would yield large welfare gains. The social value of the patent system would also be larger if complemented by antitrust limits on licensing.

Suggested Citation

  • Schankerman, Mark & Schuett, Florian, 2020. "Patent Screening, Innovation, and Welfare," CEPR Discussion Papers 15301, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:15301
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    courts; Innovation; licensing; litigation; patent fees; Patent quality; screening;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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