Inventing Norms

46 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2010 Last revised: 8 May 2013

See all articles by William Hubbard

William Hubbard

University of Baltimore - School of Law

Date Written: 2011


Patent law strives to promote the progress of technology by encouraging invention. Traditionally, scholars contend that patent law achieves this goal by creating financial incentives to invent in the form of exclusive rights to new technology. This traditional view of invention, however, fails to recognize that inventors are motivated by more than money. Like most people, inventors are also motivated by social norms, that is, shared normative beliefs favoring certain actions while disfavoring others. This Article argues that many Americans embrace social norms that favor and encourage successful invention. Because of these “inventing norms” inventors enjoy enhanced personal satisfaction and are esteemed by their friends, family, and peers. Importantly, patent law can strengthen and shape inventing norms by, for example, identifying and validating successful inventions. Patent scholars, however, have largely ignored social norms that motivate people to invent and the effect of patent law on these norms. This Article remedies this oversight by developing a framework for incorporating inventing norms into traditional patent law analysis.

Keywords: Patent, Social, Norm, Intellectual Property, IP, Invent, Invention, Innovate, Innovation, Inventor, Discovery, Prestige, Respect

Suggested Citation

Hubbard, William, Inventing Norms (2011). 44 Connecticut Law Review 369 (2011), Available at SSRN:

William Hubbard (Contact Author)

University of Baltimore - School of Law ( email )

1420 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States

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