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Increasing Returns in the Patent System: Institutional Sources and Consequences for Law


Sivaramjani Thambisetty


London School of Economics and Political Science

February 16, 2009

LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 7/2009

Abstract:     
This paper critically analyses the impact of the institutional set up of UK and US patent systems on the optimality of patent law. Based on recent work on institutionalism, the author argues that the patent system is subject to increasing returns processes or positive feedback, where the probability of further steps along a given legal sequence increases with each move down that path. In an analysis that puts temporality at the heart of the argument, this paper shows how the interactions between key institutions in the patent system can result in doctrinal incoherence. Prominent sources of increasing returns in the patent system are inter-institutional linkages, legal authority exercised by prominent institutions and the intrinsic and extrinsic uncertainty associated with patents. The inadequacy of corrective mechanisms intensifies increasing returns. In such circumstances even early or tentative commitments made to policies and legal standards become tenacious while the costs of policy reversal grow and grow and become prohibitive. The result is a legal system plagued by the possibility of bizarre and unpredictable outcomes.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 29

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Date posted: February 24, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Thambisetty, Sivaramjani, Increasing Returns in the Patent System: Institutional Sources and Consequences for Law (February 16, 2009). LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 7/2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1344761 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1344761

Contact Information

Sivaramjani Thambisetty (Contact Author)
London School of Economics and Political Science ( email )
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
HOME PAGE: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/law/staff/sivaramjani-thambisetty.htm
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