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Do Shorter Product Cycles Induce Patent Thickets?


  • Beschorner, Patrick Frank Ernst


The traditional argument that shorter product cycles favor trade secret over patenting is reviewed. A game theoretic model provides an argument that shorter product cycles can induce firms to file more patent applications. The firms may be trapped in a prisoners' dilemma where all firms would jointly prefer to patent less and to not have a patent thicket. If firms start applying for patents on technologies which are not yet mature in order to cover ideas that may eventually turn successful, this may create a patent thicket. The transition into a situation where firms start patenting many ideas instead of single mature technologies is initiated and accelerated when network effects are present or patents exhibit a blocking property.

Suggested Citation

  • Beschorner, Patrick Frank Ernst, 2008. "Do Shorter Product Cycles Induce Patent Thickets?," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-098, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:7472

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    patent thicket; product cycles; licensing; network effects;

    JEL classification:

    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • K2 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law

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