Economics and the design of patent systems
The author uses intuition derived from several of his research papers to make three points. First, in the absence of a common law balancing test, application of uniform patentability criteria favors some industries over others. Policymakers must decide the optimal tradeoff across industries. Second, if patent rights are not closely related to the underlying inventions, more patenting may reduce R&D in industries that are both R&D and patent intensive. Third, for reasons largely unrelated to intellectual property, the U.S. private innovation system has become far more decentralized than it was a generation ago. It is reasonable to inquire whether a patent system that worked well in an era of more centralized innovation functions as well for the more decentralized environment of today.
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