“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; 25(1):1-24. DOI: 10.1016/0167-2681(94)90083-3


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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    • "Narin, Hamilton, and Olivastro (1997) state that public science plays an essential role in supporting U.S. industry and confirmed – at least for the U.S. industries they studied – that public science is a driving force behind high technology, and that the linkages between technology and science are increasing. A nation's innovation capability is a cumulative learning process and achievements of earlier years serve as a basis for later innovation action (Lee & Lee, 2013; Merges & Nelson, 1994; Scotchmer, 1991). Exploration of the accumulation patterns of innovation would reveal the learning process and the evolution pattern of science and technology. "
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    ABSTRACT: By empirical demonstration, this study extends the assessments of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in performing science and technology in previous studies by exploring their cumulative patterns of science and technology (proxied by publications and patents respectively). Projections of cumulative production in science and technology are made using logistic growth function. Our analyses show that – though having different growth trajectories in science production – the BRICS countries exhibit similar patterns in pursuing technology. This embodies the strong commitment of BRICS to improve their technological capabilities in the process of industrial development. Inspired by the Relative Impact Index (RII) proposed by Nesta and Patel, we propose the Relative Science Impact Index (RSII) to evaluate the relative impact of science and technology on the process of technological catching-up in emerging economies and examine the co-evolution between science-based patents and patent citations. Our correlation analysis between forward citation and RSII marks some distinctive pursuits of BRICS countries in science-based patenting activities.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Journal of Informetrics
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    • "Following existing research, I operationalized the first dimension as the number of claims in the patent (i.e. Lanjouw and Schankerman, 1997; Merges and Nelson, 1994; Walker, 1995), information which I collected from the NBER patent dataset. I collected (from Google Patents) the number of unique three-digit technological classes in which each patent's claims were classified at the time of the patent application as reflecting the positioning of those claims across technological classes (USPTO, 2014b). "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper focuses on the concept of patent scope, and contributes to existing research in three ways. First, it offers a re-examination of the construct and identifies two dimensions of patent scope, (1) the number of variations of the core inventive idea identified in the patent, reflected in the number of claims in the patent (e.g. Merges and Nelson, 1994); and (2) the positioning of those variations in the inventive space, which is reflected in the number of technological classes in which patent examiners classify those claims. Second, it investigates the implications of patent scope for the firm's subsequent inventive performance, and finds that, when the scope of a patents spans across a higher number of technological classes, the extent to which the inventing firm itself succeeds in building on the knowledge underlying its own patent is lower. Third, it investigates the antecedents of scope, and suggests that prior investment in scientific knowledge and in related inventive experience are two factors that affect the scope of the patents that firms develop. The theoretical predictions elaborated in this paper are supported by an empirical examination of a longitudinal sample of firms in the photonics industry.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Research Policy
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    • "Here, we limited our respondents to those working in pharmaceuticals, where patents have traditionally been seen as essential to secure appropriability (e.g. Levin et al., 1987, Merges & Nelson, 1994). It may cost 50-100 million dollars to develop a successful new drug. "
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    ABSTRACT: The increasingly strategic use of patents, and their importance for competitive advantage, pose special challenges for small high-tech firms. This paper seeks to add to our understanding of the strategic and economic effects of patents by exploring why small high-tech firms take out patents - and why not - and how these choices are linked to these firms' broader business and technology strategies. Under what circumstances do small high-tech firms find patents effective, and what patent-related problems have they experienced? How important are factors such as industry characteristics, the nature of the invention, and previous patenting experience? To answer these questions, we conducted a series of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with patent experts in thirty-four small Danish firms in telecommunications, software and biotechnology. This paper presents some of our preliminary results.
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