Brunelleschi's bargain: intellectual property in digital space
Patent reform: a mixed blessing for the U.S. economy?
The 1980s represented a period of dramatic change in the design and enforcement of U.S. intellectual property law. Many of these changes were adopted in the hopes of stimulating private research and development and improving the technological competitiveness of American industries. This article examines the effects of an especially important aspect of these changes: many more inventions qualify for patent protection than before. While it seems logical that making patents easier to obtain will encourage more inventive activity, economic analysis reveals this is not always true, and it is less ...
Rewarding sequential innovators: prizes, patents and buyouts
This paper presents a model of cumulative innovation where firms are heterogeneous in their research ability. We study the optimal reward policy when the quality of the ideas and their subsequent development effort are private information. The optimal assignment of property rights must counterbalance the incentives of current and future innovators. The resulting mechanism resembles a menu of patents that have infinite duration and fixed scope, where the latter increases in the value of the idea. Finally, we provide a way to implement this patent menu by using a simple buyout scheme: The ...
Patent licensing revisited: heterogeneous firms and product differentiation
In this paper we study the optimal licensing agreement between a patentholder of a cost-reducing innovation and firms that have heterogeneous uses for the new technology. We consider the case in which these firms are competitors in a downstream market. We extend the competition environment among the licensees beyond the Cournot/Bertrand models considered by the previous literature to a framework with differentiated products. We also assume that potential licensees have private information about the usefulness of the new technology. We characterize two purposes the optimal licensing contract ...
The case against patents
The case against patents can be summarized briefly: there is no empirical evidence that they serve to increase innovation and productivity. There is strong evidence, instead, that patents have many negative consequences.
Patents: protecting inventors and the public good
Patent rights are becoming increasingly controversial in areas such as pharmaceuticals and genetics. Should the public good come before the private gain of new product inventors or developers? The May 2010 Newsletter tackles this issue.
Cities as centers of innovation
Innovation: Is the Eighth District catching up with the nation?
The degree of innovation in the Eighth District has lagged the rest of the nation over the past two decades. In one area, however, the District is beginning to catch up.
The value of knowledge spillovers
This paper aims at quantifying the economic value of knowledge spillovers by exploring information contained in patent citations. We estimate a market valuation equation for semiconductor firms during the 1980s and 1990s, and find an average value in the amount of $0.6 to 1.2 million "R&D-equivalent" dollars for the knowledge spillovers as embodied in one patent citation. For an average semiconductor firm, such an estimate implies that the total value of knowledge spillovers the firm received during the sample period could be as high as half of its actual total R&D expenditures in the ...