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Title: "Do Shorter Product Cycles Induce Patent Thickets?"
Author: Patrick Beschorner Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW)
Source: ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 08-098
Publication Date: December 5 2008
Free/Fee: Free Access
Reads: 3377
Abstract: The traditional argument that shorter product cycles favor trade secret over patenting is reviewed. A game theoretic model provides an argument that shorter product cycles can induce firms to file more patent applications. The firms may be trapped in a prisoners' dilemma where all firms would jointly prefer to patent less and to not have a patent thicket. If firms start applying for patents on technologies which are not yet mature in order to cover ideas that may eventually turn successful, this may create a patent thicket. The transition into a situation where firms start patenting many ideas instead of single mature technologies is initiated and accelerated when network effects are present or patents exhibit a blocking property.
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