Prior Art: To Search or Not to Search

49 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2011

See all articles by Vidya Atal

Vidya Atal

Montclair State University - Feliciano School of Business

Talia Bar

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 17, 2009

Abstract

To determine patentability, inventions are evaluated in light of existing prior art. Innovators have a duty to disclose any prior art that they are aware of, but have no obligation to search. We study innovators' incentives to search for prior art, their search intensities and the timing. We distinguish between early state of the art search - conducted before R&D investment, and novelty search - conducted right before applying for a patent. We identify conditions in which innovators have no incentive to search for prior art. Search intensity increases with R&D cost, the examiners' expected search effort, and with patenting fees. We also find that innovators prefer to correlate their search technology with that of the patent office. In light of our model, we discuss the implications of some proposed policy reforms.

Keywords: innovation, patent, prior art, research and development, search

JEL Classification: D83, K, L2, O31, O34

Suggested Citation

Atal, Vidya and Bar, Talia R., Prior Art: To Search or Not to Search (July 17, 2009). International Journal of Industrial Organization, Vol. 28, No. 5, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1807051

Vidya Atal (Contact Author)

Montclair State University - Feliciano School of Business ( email )

Department of Economics
1 Normal Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07043
United States
(973)655-7403 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/vidyaatal/home

Talia R. Bar

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics ( email )

365 Fairfield Way, U-1063
Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States

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