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Business Method Patents, Innovation, and Policy

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  • Bronwyn H. Hall

Abstract

The trickle of business method patents issued by the United States Patent Office became a flood after the State Street Bank decision in 1998. Many scholars, both legal and economic, have critiqued both the quality of these patents and the decision itself. This paper discusses the likely impact of these patents on innovation. It first reviews the facts about business method and internet patents briefly and then explores what economists know about the relationship between the patent system and innovation. It concludes by finding some consensus in the literature about the problems associated with this particular expansion of patentable subject matter, highlighting remaining areas of disagreement, and suggesting where there are major gaps in our understanding of the impact of these patents.

Suggested Citation

  • Bronwyn H. Hall, 2003. "Business Method Patents, Innovation, and Policy," NBER Working Papers 9717, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9717
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Jonathan Levin & Richard Levin, "undated". "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.
    3. Baldwin, John R. & Hanel, Peter & Sabourin, David, 2000. "Determinants of Innovative Activity in Canadian Manufacturing Firms: The Role of Intellectual Property Rights," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2000122e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    4. Robert M. Hunt, 2001. "You can patent that? Are patents on computer programs and business methods good for the new economy?," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q1, pages 5-15.
    5. 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.
    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. 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. Edwin Mansfield, 1986. "Patents and Innovation: An Empirical Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(2), pages 173-181, February.
    9. Diallo, Barrou, 2003. "Historical perspectives on IP protection for software in selected countries worldwide," World Patent Information, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 19-25, March.
    10. Lanjouw, Jean O & Schankerman, Mark, 2001. "Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights," CEPR Discussion Papers 3093, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Lerner, Josh, 1995. "Patenting in the Shadow of Competitors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 463-495, October.
    12. Jean O. Lanjouw & Iain Cockburn, 2000. "Do Patents Matter?: Empirical Evidence after GATT," NBER Working Papers 7495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1988. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial R&D," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 862, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    14. 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, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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, September.
    3. 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.
    4. Hall, Bronwyn H. & MacGarvie, Megan, 2010. "The private value of software patents," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 994-1009, September.
    5. Martin A. Bader & Oliver Gassmann, 2011. "Patent Portfolio Management," Chapters,in: The Economic Valuation of Patents, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Shiyuan Pan & Heng-fu Zou & Tailong Li, 2010. "Patent Protection, Technological Change and Wage Inequality," CEMA Working Papers 437, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
    7. Talia Bar & Brendan Costello, 2017. "Patent Validity Challenges and The America Invents Act," Working papers 2017-21, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised May 2018.
    8. Wagner, S. & Cockburn, I., 2010. "Patents and the survival of Internet-related IPOs," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 214-228, March.
    9. Bronwyn H. Hall & Grid Thoma & Salvatore Torrisi, 2009. "Financial Patenting in Europe," NBER Working Papers 14714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. repec:eee:ecanpo:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:26-48 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Oecd, 2004. "Patents and Innovation: Trends and Policy Challenges," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000000502, David K. Levine.
    12. Pollock, Rufus, 2006. "Innovation and Imitation with and without Intellectual Property Rights," MPRA Paper 5025, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 17 Jul 2007.
    13. Johnson, Justin P., 2014. "Defensive publishing by a leading firm," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 15-27.
    14. Bronwyn H. Hall & Lee E. Manfred, 2007. "Innovation in non-bank payment systems," Proceedings – Payments System Research Conferences, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • K3 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law
    • L4 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies

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