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Sequential Innovation and Optimal Patent Design

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  • Christian Riis
  • Xianwen Shi

Abstract

We study optimal patent design in a setting with sequential innovation. Firms innovate by undertaking "research" activities to generate new ideas and by undertaking "development" activities to transform these ideas into viable products. Both innovation incentives and the welfare costs of patent monopoly are multidimensional. We characterize optimal patent policy, and in particular, the tradeoff between patent length and patent breadth in this setting. The optimal size of the patent reward is smaller for patents associated with a higher deadweight loss. For a given reward size, a better patent that generates higher social surplus is shorter but broader. The optimal patent length may be finite or infinite.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Riis & Xianwen Shi, 2012. "Sequential Innovation and Optimal Patent Design," Working Papers tecipa-447, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-447
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kremer, Michael R., 1998. "Patent Buyouts: A Mechanism for Encouraging Innovation," Scholarly Articles 3693705, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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    3. Suzanne Scotchmer & Jerry Green, 1990. "Novelty and Disclosure in Patent Law," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 131-146, Spring.
    4. Albert Banal-Estañol & Inés Macho-Stadler, 2010. "Scientific and Commercial Incentives in R&D: Research versus Development?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 185-221, March.
    5. Paul Klemperer, 1990. "How Broad Should the Scope of Patent Protection Be?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 113-130, Spring.
    6. Hugo Hopenhayn & Gerard Llobet & Matthew Mitchell, 2006. "Rewarding Sequential Innovators: Prizes, Patents, and Buyouts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(6), pages 1041-1068, December.
    7. 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.
    8. Richard Gilbert & Carl Shapiro, 1990. "Optimal Patent Length and Breadth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 106-112, Spring.
    9. Ted O'Donoghue, 1998. "A Patentability Requirement for Sequential Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(4), pages 654-679, Winter.
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    14. Michael Kremer, 1998. "Patent Buyouts: A Mechanism for Encouraging Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1137-1167.
    15. Howard F. Chang, 1995. "Patent Scope, Antitrust Policy, and Cumulative Innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(1), pages 34-57, Spring.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    sequential innovation; patent length; patent breadth; incentives; mechanism design;

    JEL classification:

    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)
    • L00 - Industrial Organization - - General - - - General

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