Do Shorter Product Cycles Induce Patent Thickets?

42 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2008

See all articles by Patrick Beschorner

Patrick Beschorner

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

The traditional argument that shorter product cycles favor trade secret over patenting is reviewed. A game theoretic model provides an argument that shorter product cycles can induce firms to file more patent applications. The firms may be trapped in a prisoners' dilemma where all firms would jointly prefer to patent less and to not have a patent thicket. If firms start applying for patents on technologies which are not yet mature in order to cover ideas that may eventually turn successful, this may create a patent thicket. The transition into a situation where firms start patenting many ideas instead of single mature technologies is initiated and accelerated when network effects are present or patents exhibit a blocking property.

Keywords: patent thicket, product cycles, licensing, network effects

JEL Classification: L1, L2, O31, K2

Suggested Citation

Beschorner, Patrick, Do Shorter Product Cycles Induce Patent Thickets? (2008). ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 08-098, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1314229 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1314229

Patrick Beschorner (Contact Author)

ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1
D-68034 Mannheim, 68034
Germany

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