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Economics and the design of patent systems

  • Robert M. Hunt

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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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 07-6.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:07-6
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  1. Farrell, Joseph & Shapiro, Carl, 2007. "How Strong Are Weak Patents?," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt8vg425vj, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Robert M Hunt, 2003. "Patentability, Industry Structure and Innovation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000689, David K. Levine.
  3. Robert Hunt & James Bessen, 2004. "The software patent experiment," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q3, pages 22-32.
  4. Robert M. Hunt, 2006. "When Do More Patents Reduce R&D?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 87-91, May.
  5. Moschini, GianCarlo & Yerokhin, Oleg, 2008. "Patents, Research Exemption, and the Incentive for Sequential Innovation," Staff General Research Papers 12598, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  6. Robert M. Hunt & Leonard I. Nakamura, 2006. "The Democratization of U.S. Research and Development after 1980," 2006 Meeting Papers 121, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2000. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not)," NBER Working Papers 7552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jay Pil Choi, 2003. "Pools and Cross-Licensing in the Shadow of Patent Litigation," CESifo Working Paper Series 1070, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Rosemarie Ham Ziedonis, 2004. "Don't Fence Me In: Fragmented Markets for Technology and the Patent Acquisition Strategies of Firms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(6), pages 804-820, June.
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