From Personal to Impersonal Exchange in Ideas: Patent System as a Trade System
Posted: 26 Feb 2013
Date Written: February 25, 2013
Technology has always been at the heart of economic development. This knowledge has been kept private through a variety of means throughout history, but through the patent system, technology has become tradable in its own right. Its original purpose was clearly to promote invention (technology to increase productivity) and innovation (products and services than embody the new productivity enhancing technology) by means of exchange of extant, privately held, technology between nations, firms and individuals and now also non-profit entities such as universities and NGOs. The exchange can be seen as two fold: social (through disclosure) and market economic (through excluding, transferrable and licensable claims). The view presented here is that these rights establish markets in ideas and introduces competition in technology through the public disclosure.
An economic experiment is discussed where contracts on patents are traded in impersonal markets with demand side bidding, thus moving the invention-intermediation-innovation process from being coordinated in a hierarchy to coordination in a market with prices between specialized inventors, intermediaries and innovators.
Policy proposals on internationalization of exchange in technology (tradability), institutional learning for efficient exchange, and a culture of innovation are then discussed, tying in the themes of the workshop into trade in ideas.
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