Patenting innovation : intellectual property rights in the new economy


University of British Columbia

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Master of Laws - LLM




In advanced industrial economies where, increasingly, intellectual assets are the principal source of value, productivity, and growth, strong intellectual property rights (IPRs)—conferred by patents, copyrights, and penalties for misappropriation of trade secrets—are an important inducement to invention and investment. For this reason, the extension and strengthening of IPRs in the United States and elsewhere in the past twenty-five years were appropriate and probably necessary. It may be that in some respects those processes should proceed further. On the other hand, there is growing friction over the assertion and exercise of some IPRs, particular patents, and claims that in some circumstances they may be discouraging research, its communication, and use. The question arises whether in some respects the strengthening and extension have proceeded too far. It is well known that the use of, reliance upon, and effects of patent protections vary across industries and technologies, but until recently there has been remarkably little empirical research documenting these differences. Fortunately, this is beginning to change, and the effects of some of the policy changes in the 1980s and 1990s are beginning to be investigated. Some evidence suggests that the effort to strengthen patent rights has indeed increased their importance and may have contributed to the growth of industrial R&D funding. On the other hand, recent survey evidence indicates that U.S. manufacturing firms in most industries rely more heavily on trade secrecy, lead time, and other technological protections to recoup their R&D investments than they do on legal mechanisms such as patents. This thesis examines the effects that a stronger, broader patent regime is having on today's industries. The main issues that emerge are those of patent quality and scope, as caused by problems with patent administration and litigation. Various solutions to these problems are then investigated, and recommendations made for future reform.


Patent laws and legislation -- Economic aspects; Patent laws and legislation -- United States; Intellectual property

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