An economic review of the patent system (Study of the - download pdf or read online

By Fritz Machlup

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Extra resources for An economic review of the patent system (Study of the Subcommittee on Patents, Trade-marks, and Copyrights of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, study)

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I (1934),pp. 46-97, lei One nods occas~onnlcomments on the desirability of a shorter dnration for petty patents-as is Proon the praotimbility of a flexible duration to be set by the courts to allow vided in the German law-r reasonable prolits from the invention-as provided in the Australian law :but no attempts to apply e m nomic analysis to the problem. 1~~ In other places Marshall had proposed that industries operating under < '. increasing returns" be given "bounties" (government subsidies) in order to induce them to expand faster than they would otherwise, and thus to realize greater economies of scale.

161 Id.. p. 225. a :Leon Wslras, op. cit.. supra, note 137, p. 202. 32 AN ECONOMIC REVIEW OF THE PATENT SYSTEM The "exchange-for-secrets" thesis of patent protection does not find the strong support among economists that it has among other writers on patents. Several economists have shown considerable skepticism concerning the effectiveness of the patent system in eliciting the disclosure of technological secrets that would have much chance of remaining secret for long. The skepticism seems to rest on different considerations, stressed by different writers, who refer to the unwillingness of firms to patent what they think they may be able to keep secret; the unwillingness of researchers to publish what they think they may later develop into patentable inventions; the ability of inventors to obtain patents despite incomplete disclosure; and the inability of manufacturers to keep secret most of the technology they use and, consequently, society's munificence in granting monopolies for the disclosure of what would become known in any .

83-84. , pp. 07-81. 28 AN ~ N O M I CREVIEW OF THE PATENT SYSTEM I n a similar vein, John Bates Clark attributed to patent monopolies a role in reducingVexistingmonopoly power: While a patent may sometimes sustain a powerful monopoly i t may also afford the best means of breaking one up. 51 Others, however, were less sanguine about the supposedly short-lived monopoly positions created by patents. " lK2 J. B. I63 Lionel Robbins describes the influence of patent protection as follows: Not merely does i t directly protect the manufacturer of patented articles; i t also permits the creation of a whole network of tying contracts, forced joint supply, resale price maintenance and other trade practices, not particularly conspicuous in themselves but cumulatively highly conducive to the consolidation of mono~olisticconditions.

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An economic review of the patent system (Study of the Subcommittee on Patents, Trade-marks, and Copyrights of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, study) by Fritz Machlup


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