This paper asks whether an influential study of software patents is reliable.
There is no consensus among economists that software patents are harmful, as it is very hard to show whether we are better off with or without them.
- In 2002, James Bessen and Robert Hunt released a paper that argued that firms were applying for large numbers of software patents to discourage competitors.
- This paper responds, questioning Bessen and Hunt:
- For including patents in their study that might not be software patents.
- For leaving out newer software firms, those founded after 1989, noting that the software business has changed.
- For assuming that the cost of a patent to a firm or firms tells us about its cost to consumers and the economy as a whole.
- The authors argue that the Bessen and Hunt paper should not be relied on in making policy.