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Patents, Imitation and Licensing in an Asymmetric Dynamic R&D Race

  • Fershtman, Chaim
  • Markovich, Sarit

R&D is an inherently dynamic process which involves different intermediate steps that need to be developed before the completion of the final invention. Firms are not necessarily symmetric in their R&D abilities; some may have advantages in early stages of the R&D process while others may have advantages in other stages of the process. The paper uses a simple two-firm asymmetric ability multistage R&D race model to analyse the effect of different types of patent policy regimes and licensing arrangement on the speed of innovation, firm value and consumers' surplus. The paper demonstrates the circumstances under which a weak patent protection regime, which facilitates free imitation of any intermediate technology, may yield a higher overall surplus than a regime that awards patent for the final innovation. This result holds even in cases where the length of the patent is optimally calculated.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5481.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5481
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  1. Harris, Christopher & Vickers, John, 1987. "Racing with Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 1-21, January.
  2. Robert M Hunt, 2003. "Patentability, Industry Structure and Innovation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000689, David K. Levine.
  3. Kenneth Judd & Karl Schmedders, 2002. "Optimal Rules for Patent Races," Discussion Papers 1343, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Ariel Pakes & Paul McGuire, 1992. "Computing Markov perfect Nash equilibria: numerical implications of a dynamic differentiated product model," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 58, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Klemperer, Paul, 1990. "How Broad Should the Scope of Patent Protection Be?," CEPR Discussion Papers 392, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Nancy T. Gallini, 2002. "The Economics of Patents: Lessons from Recent U.S. Patent Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 131-154, Spring.
  9. Reinganum, Jennifer F., 1981. "Dynamic games of innovation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 21-41, August.
  10. James Bessen & Eric Maskin, 2006. "Sequential Innovation, Patents, and Imitation," Economics Working Papers 0025, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  11. Gilbert, R. & Shapiro, C., 1988. "Optimal Patent Length And Breadth," Papers 28, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  12. Maskin, Eric & Tirole, Jean, 2001. "Markov Perfect Equilibrium: I. Observable Actions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 191-219, October.
  13. Doraszelski, Ulrich, 2003. " An R&D Race with Knowledge Accumulation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(1), pages 20-42, Spring.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Steve A. Lippman & Kevin F. McCardle, 1987. "Dropout Behavior in R&D Races with Learning," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 18(2), pages 287-295, Summer.
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