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Mitigating "Anticommons" Harms to Science and Technology Research

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  • Paul A. David

    () (Department of Economics, Stanford University)

Abstract

There are three analytically distinct layers of the phenomenon that has been labeled “the anticommons” and indicted as a potential impediment to innovation resulting from patenting and enforcement of IPR obtained on academic research results. This paper distinguishes among “search costs”, “transactions costs”, and “multiple marginalization” effects in the pricing of licenses for commercial use of IP, and examines the distinctive resource allocation problems arising from each when exclusion rights over research inputs are distributed among independent owners. Where information use-rights are gross complements (either in production or consumption), multiple marginalization—seen here to be the core of the “anticommons” – is likely to result in extreme forms of “royalty stacking” that can pose serious impediments to R&D projects. The practical consequences, particularly for exploratory scientific research (contrasted with commercially-oriented R&D) are seen from a heuristic analysis of the effects of distributed ownership of scientific and technical database rights. A case is presented for the contractual construction of “research resource commons” designed as efficient IPR pools, as the preferable response to the anticommons.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul A. David, 2011. "Mitigating "Anticommons" Harms to Science and Technology Research," Discussion Papers 10-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:10-030
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    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/10-030.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Ugo Pagano, 2013. "Technical assets and property rights," Chapters,in: Handbook of Economic Organization, chapter 18 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    law and economics; IPR; licensing; anticommons; patent hold-ups; royalty stacking; database rights; contractual commons; efficient pools;

    JEL classification:

    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • 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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