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Sequential Innovation, Patents, and Imitation

James Bessen () and Eric Maskin

No 25, Economics Working Papers from Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science

Abstract: We argue that when discoveries are "sequential" (so that each successive invention builds in an essential way on its predecessors) patent protection is not as useful for encouraging innovation as in a static setting. Indeed, society and even inventors themselves may be better off without such protection. Furthermore, an inventor's prospective profit may actually be enhanced by competition and imitation. Our sequential model of innovation appears to explain evidence from a natural experiment in the software industry.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ino, nep-ipr, nep-pr~ and nep-mic
Date: 2006-03
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Journal Article: Sequential innovation, patents, and imitation (2009) Downloads
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