Is There a Biomedical Anticommons?
5 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2004
Congress and the Food and Drug Administration have heard several recent calls for weakening the patent protection supplied under the Hatch-Waxman Amendments to the basic patent and food and drug laws, which govern the relationship between holders of pharmaceutical patents and their eventual generic competitors. According to some of the proponents of such change, the patents lead to a "Tragedy of the Anticommons" wherein innovation is slowed or aborted as various firms refuse to allow others to use their intellectual property. We think that Heller and Eisenberg have overstated the case against patent protection at both the theoretical and empirical levels. The number of patents filed in recent years has continued to move sharply upward across the board. Indeed, threatening to weaken patent rights is likely to have a chilling effect on innovation because without ample patent protection, no combination of first-mover advantages or altruism will generate the capital sums needed.
Keywords: Anticommons, biomedical, pharmaceutical patents, intellectual property, patents, biomedical research, tragedy of the anticommons, liability, innovation, patents
JEL Classification: I18, O34, O31, O38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation