IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Economics of Patent Pools When Some (but not all) Patents are Essential


  • Daniel Quint

    () (Stanford University)


Patent pools are agreements by multiple patent owners to license certain patents to third parties as a package, and often in conjunction with the development of a technological standard. A key distinction made by regulators—between patents essential to a standard and patents that are suitable substitutes—has not been captured in existing economic models. I present a model of competition among differentiated technologies, in which some patents are essential and some are not. I show that pools of essential patents are Pareto-improving whenever they occur, while pools of nonessential patents can be welfare-negative, even when the included patents are all complements. I discuss conditions under which certain pools are likely to form, the “outsider problem” which makes some pools inefficiently small, and the effects of compulsory individual licensing.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Quint, 2006. "Economics of Patent Pools When Some (but not all) Patents are Essential," Discussion Papers 06-028, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:06-028

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aoki, Reiko & Nagaoka, Sadao, 2005. "Coalition Formation for a Consortium Standard Through a Standard Body and a Patent Pool: Theory and Evidence from MPEG2, DVD and 3G," IIR Working Paper 05-01, Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    2. Caplin, Andrew & Nalebuff, Barry, 1991. "Aggregation and Imperfect Competition: On the Existence of Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(1), pages 25-59, January.
    3. Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2004. "Efficient Patent Pools," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 691-711, June.
    4. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
    5. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-1277, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    patent pool; technology; innovation; essential patent; nonessential patent;

    JEL classification:

    • 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


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:06-028. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anne Shor). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.