Complex Economics and Patent Remedies
IP Theory, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 50-55, 2011
7 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2011 Last revised: 3 Jan 2015
Date Written: May 1, 2011
Robert Merges and Richard Nelson’s 1990 article On the Complex Economics of Patent Scope focuses attention on patent rights’ capacity to slow innovative progress by “taxing” or otherwise impeding the activities of follow-on innovators. They argue that such dynamic “drag” from patent rights can be especially problematic with respect to “cumulative technologies,” which might be crudely described as technologies in which significant advances tend to involve a multiplicity of substantially novel features. Broad patent scope can decelerate the development of such a technology by “reducing competition in the market for improvements to the patented technology.” The result can be a relatively “sluggish” rate of further technological advance. This short essay considers what Merges and Nelson's article about patent scope suggests in relation to modern debates over patent remedies.
Keywords: complex economics
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