Article Title

Markets for Patent Scope

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

1 IP Theory 42 (2010)


A recurring issue in intellectual property theory is how the scope of patent rights affects invention and commercialization. Traditionally, there has been a dichotomous debate: one view stemming from Ed Kitch, promoting broad “prospect”-style patents in the hands of a single inventor, and another view from Robert Merges and Richard Nelson, advocating relatively narrow scope to encourage competition in innovation. More recently, a variety of scholars have set forth more nuanced positions. My thesis here is that the variance in these views can be traced to differing empirical attitudes about how well the market functions relative to a patent system in promoting invention, commercialization, and coordination among market actors in the R&D process. By investigating these empirical differences, scholars can more rigorously address a number of important issues not fully examined by the literature, such as the cumulative nature of technology commercialization (not just invention), the tailoring of patent scope by industry, collaborative innovation, and the decoupling of patent rights to separately address invention and commercialization incentives.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.