Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Patents stimulate only superficial research?

IPBiz found a Kinsella comment on patenthawk (re: Rick Frenkel) of interest and reproduces it here:

In fact, many studies have been done. None of them show that it's a net gain; most show that it's a net loss, or difficult to answer. See: my article There's No Such Thing as a Free Patent, http://www.mises.org/fullstory.aspx?Id=1763; also
Kinsella, Revisiting Some Problems With Patents http://blog.mises.org/archives/006930.asp; Jonathan M. Barnett, Cultivating the Genetic Commons: Imperfect Patent Protection and the Network Model of Innovation, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=786545 37 U. San Diego L. Rev. 987, 1008 (2000) (“There is little determinative empirical evidence to settle theoretical speculation over the optimal scope and duration of patent protection.”) (citing D.J. Wright, “Optimal patent breadth and length with costly imitation,” 17 Intl. J. Industrial Org. 419, 426 (1999)); Robert P. Merges & Richard R. Nelson, “On the Complex Economics of Patent Scope,” http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/IPCoop/90merg2.html 90 Colum. L. Rev. 839, 868-870 (1990) (stating that most economic models of patent scope and duration focus on the relation between breadth, duration, and incentives to innovate, without giving serious consideration to the social costs of greater duration and breadth in the form of retarded subsequent improvement)); Tom W. Bell, Prediction Markets for Promoting the Progress of Science and the Useful Arts, 14 G. Mason L. Rev. (2006) http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=925989 (“But [patents and copyrights] for the most part stimulate only superficial research in, and development of, the sciences and useful arts; copyrights and patents largely fail to inspire fundamental progress. … Patents and copyrights promote the progress of the sciences and useful arts only imperfectly. In particular, those statutory inventions do relatively little to promote fundamental research and development ….”); Thomas F. Cotter, “Introduction to IP Symposium,” 14 Fla. J. Int'l L. 147, 149 (2002) ("[E]mpirical studies fail to provide a firm answer to the question of how much of an incentive [to invent] is necessary or, more generally, how the benefits of patent protection compare to the costs."); Mark A. Lemley, Rational Ignorance at the Patent Office, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=261400 95 Northwestern U. L. Rev. (2001), at p. 20 & n. 74 (“The patent system intentionally restricts competition in certain technologies to encourage innovation. Doing so imposes a social cost, though the judgment of the patent system is that this cost is outweighed by the benefit to innovation. … There is a great deal of literature attempting to assess whether that judgment is accurate or not, usually without success. George Priest complained years ago that there was virtually no useful economic evidence addressing the impact of intellectual property. … Fritz Machlup told Congress that economists had essentially no useful conclusions to draw on the nature of the patent system.”); Julie Turner, Note, “The Nonmanufacturing Patent Owner: Toward a Theory of Efficient Infringement,” 86 Cal. L. Rev. 179, 186-89 (1998) (Turner is dubious about the efficacy of the patent system as a means of inducing invention, and would argue against having a patent system if this were its only justification); F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism (U. Chicago Press, 1989), p. 36 (“The difference between [copyrights and patents] and other kinds of property rights is this: while ownership of material goods guides the use of scarce means to their most important uses, in the case of immaterial goods such as literary productions and technological inventions the ability to produce them is also limited, yet once they have come into existence, they can be indefinitely multiplied and can be made scarce only by law in order to create an inducement to produce such ideas. Yet it is not obvious that such forced scarcity is the most effective way to stimulate the human creative process. I doubt whether there exists a single great work of literature which we would not possess had the author been unable to obtain an exclusive copyright for it; it seems to me that the case for copyright must rest almost entirely on the circumstance that such exceedingly useful works as encyclopedias, dictionaries, textbooks, and other works of reference could not be produced if, once they existed, they could freely be reproduced. … Similarly, recurrent re-examninations of the problem have not demonstrated that the obtainability of patents of invention actually enhances the flow of new technical knowledge rather than leading to wasteful concentration of research on problems whose solution in the near future can be foreseen and where, in consequence of the law, anyone who hits upon a solution a moment before the next gains the right to its exclusive use for a prolonged period”, citing Fritz Machlup, The Production and Distribution of Knowledge (1962))

***Of Hayek-->



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