On limiting or encouraging rivalry in technical progress: The effect of patent scope decisions

School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, 420 West 118th Street, New York, NY 10027, USA
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (Impact Factor: 1.01). 02/1994; DOI: 10.1016/0167-2681(94)90083-3

ABSTRACT This essay is on the effects of the scope of a patent - e.g., how broad its allowed claims - on subsequent inventing in a field. It is argued that this depends on the topography of technical advance in a field, in particular on how inventions are linked to each other and in the extent to which rapid technical advance requires a diversity of actors and minds, as contrasted with being facilitated by express coordination of inventive activity. Technical advance is examined in several different fields, with a focus on how patents influenced the pace and quality of development. The authors conclude that allowing and enforcing broad patent claims tends to hinder technical progress.

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