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Patent policy: a need to focus both on appropriation and coordination failures



Current innovation policies (including patents) are based on the traditional vision of knowledge, which assumes that knowledge circulates as fluently as pure information. The existence of knowledge spillovers leads to under investments in research activities and thus, calls for strong knowledge protection. This framework has led policy makers to focus mainly on appropriation problems. But, with the emergence of an evolutionist vision of knowledge, more competence based, innovation policies must be reconsidered: First, the lack of incentives may have been over estimated and second, the process of knowledge production involves not only an appropriation failure but a coordination failure too. Knowledge production is a social process and as such it requires the interactions of numerous agents and the perfect coordination of all these actors. In this way, the main benefit of patents may be that they can encourage the formation of collective form of production of knowledge because they signal where the knowledge is located while offering some protection for this knowledge. Hence, patents could solve both coordination and appropriation problems. But such a solution requires that the protection given by the patent is not too strong.

Suggested Citation

  • Julien Pénin, 2001. "Patent policy: a need to focus both on appropriation and coordination failures," Cahiers de recherche du Département des sciences économiques, UQAM 20-11, Université du Québec à Montréal, Département des sciences économiques.
  • Handle: RePEc:cre:uqamwp:20-11

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    Patent; knowledge spillovers; social interactions; innovation network; coordination failure;

    JEL classification:

    • L0 - Industrial Organization - - General
    • O0 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - General

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