Courts and commentators often treat intellectual property as if the private value of the rights stemmed entirely from the control legal rules conferred over the protected subject matter. Indeed this assumption is used to justify the very existence of intellectual property protection. Such an approach frames intellectual property in general, and patents in particular, as an exchange of information for protection. On this view, inventors should be loath to disclose any more information than necessary to obtain patent protection. In this paper, rather than focusing on patents as a mechanism for privatizing information, I instead consider patents as a means of credibly publicizing information. When patents are viewed as means of reducing information costs, patents that appear to be worthless under traditional exclusivity-based conceptions of value may turn out to have positive value after all.
working papers series
Date posted: February 5, 2002
Long, Clarisa, Patent Signals. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=296288