The traditional perception of patents puts the emphasis on their importance to exclude imitators and to restore incentives to invent. This view is far too restrictive and at variance with many empirical and theoretical works. We show that these contradictions can be overcome by shifting from a traditional economic framework to a knowledge-based one. Such a move allows a renewed economic perception of patents, making them into essential instruments which serve not only to exclude potential infringers but also to “include” all the different stakeholders in the innovation process. Within this new approach the main role of the patent system is therefore to ensure the coordination among heterogeneous actors and to structure innovation activities. We illustrate our view by presenting the four polar cases of pharmaceuticals, electronics, software and biotechnologies.
From Working paper (BETA Working paper series), published on 30-04-2009