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The Utility Standard and the Patentability of Basic Research


  • Reiko Aoki

    (Department of Economics, University of Auckland)

  • Sadao Nagaoka

    (Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University)


We explore the consequences of the utility requirement for patents on speed of innovation. Basic research output, that has no immediate appli-cation except for as a step to further research, may not be patentable be-cause it does not fulfill the utility requirement of patentability. Patentabil-ity of basic research differs from the questions analyzed in the past sequen-tial innovation framework, in that basic research has no market value in itself and patentability of the first-stage invention, rather than that of the second-stage invention, is an issue. There is never immediate gain for the innovator (or static loss to society) of obtaining a patent and the gain is purely from appropriating future success of the application technology. We extend Denicolo (2000) model to identify conditions in which allowing basic research to be patented is socially desirable.

Suggested Citation

  • Reiko Aoki & Sadao Nagaoka, 2002. "The Utility Standard and the Patentability of Basic Research," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-160, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2002cf160

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    Cited by:

    1. Masuyuki Nishijima, 2004. "Effects of the Anticommons on R&D: The Case of University Corporation in Japan," Econometric Society 2004 Far Eastern Meetings 647, Econometric Society.
    2. Aoki, Reiko & Small, John, 2004. "Compulsory licensing of technology and the essential facilities doctrine," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 13-29, March.

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