A Generation of Software Patents

30 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2011 Last revised: 10 Jun 2012

James E. Bessen

Boston University - School of Law; Research on Innovation

Date Written: June 21, 2011


This report examines changes in the patenting behavior of the software industry since the 1990s. It finds that most software firms still do not patent, most software patents are obtained by a few large firms in the software industry or in other industries, and the risk of litigation from software patents continues to increase dramatically. Given these findings, it is hard to conclude that software patents have provided a net social benefit in the software industry.

Keywords: patents, software, software patents, litigation, innovation, startup firms

JEL Classification: O34, D23 L86

Suggested Citation

Bessen, James E., A Generation of Software Patents (June 21, 2011). Boston Univ. School of Law, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-31; Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2011-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1868979 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1868979

James E. Bessen (Contact Author)

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)

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