The effects of research tool patents and licensing on biomedical innovation

Published

Book Section

© Cambridge University Press 2006 and 2009. There is widespread consensus that patents have long benefited biomedical innovation. A forty-year empirical legacy suggests that patents are more effective, for example, in protecting the commercialization and licensing of innovation in the drug industry than in any other. Patents are also widely acknowledged as providing the basis for the surge in biotechnology startup activity witnessed over the past two decades. Heller and Eisenberg (1998) and the National Research Council (NRC) (1997) have suggested, however, that recent policies and practices associated with the granting, assertion, and licensing of patents on research tools may now be undercutting the stimulative effect of patents on drugs and related biomedical discoveries. In this chapter we report the results of seventy interviews with personnel at biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms and universities in considering the effects of research tool patents on industrial or academic biomedical research. We conceive of research tools broadly to include any tangible or informational input into the process of discovering a drug or any other medical therapy or method of diagnosing disease. Heller and Eisenberg (1998) argue that biomedical innovation has become susceptible to what they call a "tragedy of the anticommons," which can emerge when there are numerous property right claims to separate building blocks for some product or line of research. When these property rights are held by numerous claimants (especially if they are from different kinds of institutions), the negotiations necessary for their combination may fail, quashing the pursuit of otherwise promising lines of research or product development.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Walsh, JP; Arora, A; Cohen, WM

Published Date

  • January 1, 2006

Book Title

  • Knowledge Accumulation and Industry Evolution: The Case of Pharma-Biotech

Start / End Page

  • 277 - 326

International Standard Book Number 10 (ISBN-10)

  • 0521858224

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780521858229

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/CBO9780511493232.010

Citation Source

  • Scopus