Patents and the market for technology

Other Article (Review)

Firms have typically tried to profit from their technical innovations by selling them indirectly, embedded in goods and services. Markets for technology, in which innovations are sold or licensed, have been much rarer. Yet, trade in technology has grown systematically over the past 20 years, as reflected in the growth of arrangements such as licensing agreements, R&D joint ventures, and contract R&D. Recent estimates indicate that royalties received by American corporations for industrial processes may amount to about a quarter of total U.S. R&D. A number of supporting institutions that facilitate effective dissemination of information, standardization, and contracting are vital to the rise and functioning of markets for technology. Intellectual property rights, and in particular patents, are one such institution. The main objectives of this survey are to review critically the literature on the relationship between trade in technology and patent protection, and to assess the contribution of stricter and better-defined patent protection to the emergence of technology markets.We start our survey by providing a tentative taxonomy of markets for technology and some recent evidence on their extent and evolution. We then explore several reasons why firms would be willing to act as suppliers in the market for technology. The core of the survey revolves around the idea that patents facilitate the development of markets for technology in several ways: They enhance the ability of the licensor to extract rents from its innovation; they reduce costs in technology trade by forcing an increased codification of knowledge; they reduce information asymmetries, opportunistic behaviors, and transaction costs. However, the literature also points to some potential costs of stronger patents, including litigation costs and the problem of "anti-commons." Finally, we explore the implications of patents and markets for technology for entry, competition and industry dynamics. © 2008 ELSEVIER B.V.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Arora, A; Fosfuri, A; Gambardella, A

Published Date

  • January 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 2 /

Start / End Page

  • 123 - 156

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1574-8715

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780444527646

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/S1574-8715(07)00004-8

Citation Source

  • Scopus