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What is the Impact of Software Patent Shifts?: Evidence from Lotus v. Borland

Listed author(s):
  • Josh Lerner
  • Feng Zhu

Economists have debated the extent to which strengthening patent protection spurs or detracts from technological innovation. In this paper, we examine the reduction of software copyright protection in the Lotus v. Borland decision. If patent and copyright protections are substitutes, then weakening of one form of protection should be associated with an increasing reliance on the other. We find that the firms affected by the diminution of copyright protection disproportionately accelerated their patenting in subsequent years. But little evidence can be found for harmful effects: in fact, the increased reliance on patents is correlated with some positive outcomes for firms.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11168.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11168.

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Date of creation: Mar 2005
Publication status: published as Lerner, Josh and Feng Zhu. "What is the impact of software patent shifts? Evidence from Lotus v. Borland." International Journal of Industrial Organization 25, 3 (June 2007): 511-529.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11168
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  1. Lanjouw, J.O., 1997. "The Introduction of Pharmaceutical Product Patents in India: "Heartless Exploitation of the Poor and Suffering"?," Papers 775, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  2. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-1158, December.
  3. Kortum, Samuel & Lerner, Josh, 1998. "Stronger protection or technological revolution: what is behind the recent surge in patenting?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 247-304, June.
  4. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
  5. Carl Shapiro, 2001. "Navigating the Patent Thicket: Cross Licenses, Patent Pools, and Standard Setting," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 1, pages 119-150 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. James Bessen & Robert M. Hunt, 2007. "An Empirical Look at Software Patents," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(1), pages 157-189, 03.
  7. Hall, Bronwyn H & Ziedonis, Rosemarie Ham, 2001. "The Patent Paradox Revisited: An Empirical Study of Patenting in the U.S. Semiconductor Industry, 1979-1995," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 101-128, Spring.
  8. Sakakibara, Mariko & Branstetter, Lee, 2001. "Do Stronger Patents Induce More Innovation? Evidence from the 1988 Japanese Patent Law Reforms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 77-100, Spring.
  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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