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Patents and Cumulative Innovation:Causal Evidence from the Courts

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  • Galasso, Alberto
  • Schankerman, Mark

Abstract

Cumulative innovation is central to economic growth. Do patent rights facilitate or impede such follow-on innovation? This paper studies the causal effect of removing patent protection through court invalidation on subsequent research related to the focal patent, as measured by later citations. We exploit random allocation of judges at the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit to control for the endogeneity of patent invalidation. We find that patent invalidation leads to a 50 percent increase in subsequent citations to the focal patent, on average, but the impact is highly heterogeneous. Patent rights appear to block follow-on innovation only in the technology fields of computers, electronics and medical instruments. The effect is entirely driven by invalidation of patents owned by large patentees that triggers more follow-on innovation by small firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Galasso, Alberto & Schankerman, Mark, 2013. "Patents and Cumulative Innovation:Causal Evidence from the Courts," IIR Working Paper 13-16, Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:iirwps:13-16
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Philippe Aghion & Stefan Bechtold & Lea Cassar & Holger Herz, 2018. "The Causal Effects of Competition on Innovation: Experimental Evidence," The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(2), pages 162-195.
    2. Yongmin Chen & Shiyuan Pan & Tianle Zhang, 2018. "Patentability, R&D Direction, And Cumulative Innovation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 59(4), pages 1969-1993, November.
    3. Michael Noel & Mark Schankerman, 2013. "Strategic Patenting and Software Innovation," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 481-520, September.
    4. Guido Cozzi & Silvia Galli, 2014. "Sequential R&D and blocking patents in the dynamics of growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 183-219, June.
    5. Belleflamme,Paul & Peitz,Martin, 2015. "Industrial Organization," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107687899, November.
    6. Joy Buchanan & Bart Wilson, 2014. "An experiment on protecting intellectual property," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(4), pages 691-716, December.
    7. Boudreau, Kevin J. & Lakhani, Karim R., 2015. "“Open” disclosure of innovations, incentives and follow-on reuse: Theory on processes of cumulative innovation and a field experiment in computational biology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 4-19.

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