Bessen & Maskin 2000: Sequential Innovation
This article is written by two researcher from MIT and concludes, after giving mathematical models and experimental evidence, that in a dynamic world such as the software industry or consulting industry, firms may have plenty of incentive to innovate without patents and patents may constrict complementary innovation. It concludes that copyright protection for software programs (which has gone through its own evolution over the last decade) may have achieved a better balance than patent protection. This new model suggests another, different rationale for narrow patent breadth than the recent economic literature on this subject.
some of the most innovative industries today -- software, computers and semiconductors -- have historically had weak patent protection and have experienced rapid imitation of their products.
Far from unleashing a flurry of new innovative activity, these stronger property rights ushered in a period of stagnant, if not declining, R&D among those industries and firms that patented most.
english version 2004/08/16 by Hartmut PILCH