379 research outputs found

    A Comment on “Do Patents Facilitate Financing in the Software Industry?”

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    “Do Patents Facilitate Financing in the Software Industry?” by Ronald J. Mann contributes empirical evidence to our understanding of how software startups use patents. However, a close examination of the actual empirical findings in this paper points to rather different conclusions than those that Mann draws, namely: few software startups benefits from software patents and patents are not widely used by software firms to obtain venture financing. Indeed, among other things, the paper reports that 80% of venture-financed software startups had not acquired any patents within four years of receiving financing.

    Patent Thickets: Strategic Patenting of Complex Technologies

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    Patent race models assume that an innovator wins the only patent covering a product. But when technologies are complex, this property right is defective: ownership of a product’s technology is shared, not exclusive. In that case I show that if patent standards are low, firms build “thickets” of patents, especially incumbent firms in mature industries. When they assert these patents, innovators are forced to share rents under cross-licenses, making R&D incentives sub-optimal. On the other hand, when lead time advantages are significant and patent standards are high, firms pursue strategies of “mutual non-aggression.” Then R&D incentives are stronger, even optimal.

    Knowledge Sharing among Inventors: Some Historical Perspectives

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    This chapter documents instances from past centuries where inventors freely shared knowledge of their innovations with other inventors. It is widely believed that such knowledge sharing is largely a recent development, as in open source software. Our survey shows, instead, that innovators have long practiced "collective invention", including in such key technologies as steam engines, iron and steel production and textile machinery. Generally, innovators? behavior was substantially richer than the heroic portrayal often found in textbooks and museums. Knowledge sharing sometimes coexisted with patenting, at other times, not, suggesting the importance of public policy that accommodates knowledge sharing to foster cumulative innovation.technological change, knowledge sharing, collective invention, patents

    The software patent experiment.

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    Over the past two decades, the scope of technologies that can be patented has been expanded to include many items previously thought unsuitable for patenting, for example, computer software. Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants 20,000 or more software patents a year. Conventional wisdom holds that extending patent protection to computer programs will stimulate research and development and, thus, increase the rate of innovation. In "The Software Patent Experiment," Bob Hunt and Jim Bessen investigate whether this has, in fact, happened. They describe the spectacular growth in software patenting, who obtains patents, and the relationship between a sharp focus on software patenting and firms' investment in R&D.Patents

    An empirical look at software patents

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    U.S. legal changes have made it easier to obtain patents on inventions that use software. Software patents have grown rapidly and now comprise 15 percent of all patents. They are acquired primarily by large manufacturing firms in industries known for strategic patenting; only 5 percent belong to software publishers. The very large increase in software patent propensity over time is not adequately explained by changes in R&D investments, employment of computer programmers, or productivity growth. The residual increase in patent propensity is consistent with a sizeable rise in the cost effectiveness of software patents during the 1990s. We find evidence that software patents substitute for R&D at the firm level; they are associated with lower R&D intensity. This result occurs primarily in industries known for strategic patenting and is difficult to reconcile with the traditional incentive theory of patentsPatents
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