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Business and Financial Method Patents, Innovation, and Policy

  • Bronwyn H. Hall

Two court decisions in the 1990s are widely viewed as having opened the door to a flood of business method and financial patents at the US Patent and Trademark Office, and to have also impacted other patent offices around the world. A number of scholars, both legal and economic, have critiqued both the quality of these patents and the decisions themselves. This paper reviews the history of business method and financial patents briefly and then explores what economists know about the relationship between the patent system and innovation, in order to draw some tentative conclusions about their likely impact. It concludes by finding some consensus in the literature about the problems associated with this particular expansion of patentable subject matter, highlighting the remaining areas of disagreement, and reviewing the various policy recommendations.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14868.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
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Publication status: published as Bronwyn H. Hall, 2009. "Business And Financial Method Patents, Innovation, And Policy," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 56(s1), pages 443-473, 09.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14868
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  1. Robert P. Merges, 2003. "The uninvited guest: patents on Wall Street," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q4, pages 1-14.
  2. Graham, Stuart J. H. & Hall, Bronwyn H. & Harhoff, Dietmar & Mowery, David C., 2002. "Post-Issue Patent "Quality Control": A Comparative Study of US Patent Re-examinations and European Patent Oppositions," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8bs830w9, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  3. Sunil Kanwar & Robert Evenson, 2003. "Does intellectual property protection spur technological change?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(2), pages 235-264, April.
  4. Arora, Ashish & Ceccagnoli, Marco & Cohen, Wesley M., 2008. "R&D and the patent premium," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 1153-1179, September.
  5. Tufano, Peter, 1989. "Financial innovation and first-mover advantages," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 213-240, December.
  6. Bronwyn H. Hall & Stuart Graham & Dietmar Harhoff & David C. Mowery, 2004. "Prospects for Improving U.S. Patent Quality via Postgrant Opposition," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 4, pages 115-144 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
  8. Bronwyn H. Hall & Lee Manfred, 2007. "Innovation in non-bank payment systems," Proceedings – Payments System Research Conferences, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  9. Stefan Wagner, 2008. "Business Method Patents In Europe And Their Strategic Use—Evidence From Franking Device Manufacturers," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 173-194.
  10. Wesley M Cohen & Richard R Nelson & John P Walsh, 2003. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (Or Not)," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000624, David K. Levine.
  11. Bronwyn H. Hall & Megan MacGarvie, 2006. "The Private Value of Software Patents," NBER Working Papers 12195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Shapiro, Carl, 2000. "Navigating the Patent Thicket: Cross Licenses, Patent Pools, and Standard-Setting," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt4hs5s9wk, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  13. 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 101-28, Spring.
  14. Lanjouw, Jean O & Schankerman, Mark, 2001. "Characteristics of Patent Litigation: A Window on Competition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 129-51, Spring.
  15. Hall, Bronwyn H., 2003. "Business Method Patents, Innovation, and Policy," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt2n24f63d, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  16. Walter G. Park & Juan Carlos Ginarte, 1997. "Intellectual Property Rights And Economic Growth," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(3), pages 51-61, 07.
  17. Joseph Farrell & Carl Shapiro, 2008. "How Strong Are Weak Patents?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1347-69, September.
  18. Robert M. Hunt, 2010. "Business Method Patents And U.S. Financial Services," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(3), pages 322-352, 07.
  19. Praveen Kumar & Stuart M. Turnbull, 2008. "Optimal Patenting and Licensing of Financial Innovations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(12), pages 2012-2023, December.
  20. James Bessen & Eric Maskin, 2009. "Sequential innovation, patents, and imitation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 611-635.
  21. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1991. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 29-41, Winter.
  22. Merges, Robert P, 2003. "The Uninvited Guest: Patents on Wall Street," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt46g5m6z3, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  23. Lerner, Josh, 2006. "The new new financial thing: The origins of financial innovations," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 223-255, February.
  24. Kingston, William, 2001. "Innovation needs patents reform," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 403-423, March.
  25. Jerry R. Green & Suzanne Scotchmer, 1995. "On the Division of Profit in Sequential Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(1), pages 20-33, Spring.
  26. Edwin Mansfield, 1986. "Patents and Innovation: An Empirical Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(2), pages 173-181, February.
  27. Hall, Bronwyn H. & Thoma, Grid & Torrisi, Salvatore, 2010. "Financial Patenting in Europe," MERIT Working Papers 011, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  28. Jonathan Levin & Richard Levin, . "Patent Oppositions," Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Working Paper Series yale_lepp-1005, Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy.
  29. Yi Qian, 2007. "Do National Patent Laws Stimulate Domestic Innovation in a Global Patenting Environment? A Cross-Country Analysis of Pharmaceutical Patent Protection, 1978-2002," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(3), pages 436-453, August.
  30. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1996. "Protecting Early Innovators: Should Second-Generation Products Be Patentable?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(2), pages 322-331, Summer.
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