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How Do Patents Affect Follow-On Innovation? Evidence from the Human Genome

50 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2015 Last revised: 30 Oct 2015

Bhaven N. Sampat

Columbia University - Mailman School of Public Health

Heidi L. Williams

MIT Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 2015

Abstract

We investigate whether patents on human genes have affected follow-on scientific research and product development. Using administrative data on successful and unsuccessful patent applications submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office, we link the exact gene sequences claimed in each application with data measuring follow-on scientific research and commercial investments. Using this data, we document novel evidence of selection into patenting: patented genes appear more valuable — prior to being patented — than non-patented genes. This evidence of selection motivates two quasi-experimental approaches, both of which suggest that on average gene patents have had no effect on follow-on innovation.

Suggested Citation

Sampat, Bhaven N. and Williams, Heidi L., How Do Patents Affect Follow-On Innovation? Evidence from the Human Genome (October 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21666. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2679705

Bhaven N. Sampat (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Mailman School of Public Health ( email )

600 West 168th St. 6th Floor
New York, NY 10032
United States

Heidi L. Williams

MIT Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
E52-391
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
(617) 324-4326 (Phone)
(617) 253-1330 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econ-www.mit.edu/faculty/heidiw

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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