Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=461701
 
 

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An Empirical Look at Software Patents


James E. Bessen


Boston University - School of Law; Research on Innovation

Robert M. Hunt


Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

March 2004

FRB of Philadelphia Working Paper No. 03-17

Abstract:     
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 patents.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 53

Keywords: Software Patents Innovation Technological Change

JEL Classification: O34 D23 L86

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Date posted: April 1, 2004  

Suggested Citation

Bessen, James E. and Hunt, Robert M., An Empirical Look at Software Patents (March 2004). FRB of Philadelphia Working Paper No. 03-17. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=461701 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.461701

Contact Information

James E. Bessen
Boston University - School of Law ( email )
765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
Research on Innovation ( email )
202 High Head Rd.
Harpswell, ME 04079
United States
617-531-2092 (Phone)
Robert M. Hunt (Contact Author)
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia ( email )
Ten Independence Mall
Philadelphia, PA 19106-1574
United States
215-574-3806 (Phone)
215-574-7101 (Fax)
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