On the Apparent Failure of Patents: A Response to Bessen and Meurer

Intellectual Property and Patents

Article Snapshot

Author(s)

Rosemarie Ziedonis

Source

Academy of Management Perspectives (AMP), Vol. 22:4, pp. 21-29, 2008

Summary

Argues against assertion that public IT firms would be better off in a world without patents.

Policy Relevance

While Bessen and Meurer raise valid concerns about dysfunction in the U.S. patent system, the empirical evidence produced from their analysis fails to demonstrate that public companies in information technology (IT)-related sectors would be better off in a world without patents. Understanding what is – and is not – captured by Bessen and Maskin’s analysis is important for both academics and policymakers interested in patent reform and innovation.

Main Points

  • This article responds to an earlier AMP article by James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer, titled "Do Patents Perform Like Property?"  The article underscores the importance of Bessen and Meurer’s work to both scholars of innovation and policymakers.
     
  • Importantly, Bessen and Meurer allow firms to play dual roles as patent owners and potential defendants in patent infringement lawsuits.
     
  • Moreover, they estimate that during the 1990s public firms in information technology (IT)-related sectors incurred greater losses from lawsuits filed against them than they earned from their ownership of patents.
     
  • In this article, Ziedonis argues that Bessen and Meurer go “too far” when asserting on the basis of their evidence that public IT firms would be better off in a world without patents.
     

 

 

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