NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

How Do Patents Affect Research Investments?

Heidi L. Williams

NBER Working Paper No. 23088
Issued in January 2017
NBER Program(s):Law and Economics, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

While patent systems have been widely used both historically and internationally, there is nonetheless a tremendous amount of controversy over whether patent systems – in practice – improve the alignment between private returns and social contributions. In this paper, I describe three parameters – how the disclosure function affects research investments, how patent strength affects research investments in new technologies, and how patents on existing technologies affect follow-on innovation – needed to inform the question of how patents affect research investments, and review the available evidence which has attempted to empirically estimate these parameters.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23088

Published: Heidi L. Williams, 2017. "How Do Patents Affect Research Investments?," Annual Review of Economics, vol 9(1), pages 441-469.

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