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Decentralising the Patent System

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  • Gaetan de Rassenfosse

    (Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne)

  • Kyle Higham

    (Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University)

Abstract

Modern patent systems are slow, inefficient, expensive, and may result in outcomes that actively harm technological progress. This paper proposes a substantive re-think of these systems and lays a foundation upon which practical solutions can be built. Many solutions proposed in the past, such as prior-art bounties, outsourced examination, and dynamic fee setting, have gone unheeded due to the cost of administering them and the rigidity of the patent system. We explore how distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) enable these major changes by altering the way stakeholders are able to interact with the patent records system. We find that transitioning to a DLT-based patent records system can enable many previously suggested improvements to current patent systems in a flexible, scalable, and transparent manner. The case for such a transition is strengthened when jointly considering the complex but common roots of problems facing modern patent systems, rather than a balkanised set of technical solutions to address each issue independently. Noting that a DLT-based system is not a panacea, we also provide comment on the political, legal, and organisational challenges that must be overcome for such changes to be implemented at scale.

Suggested Citation

  • Gaetan de Rassenfosse & Kyle Higham, 2019. "Decentralising the Patent System," Working Papers 6, Chair of Innovation and IP Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:iip:wpaper:6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Higham, Kyle & de Rassenfosse, Gaétan & Jaffe, Adam B., 2021. "Patent Quality: Towards a Systematic Framework for Analysis and Measurement," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(4).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    blockchain; distributed ledger; intellectual property; patent; smart contract;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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