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Comparative Study of the Use of Patents in Different Industries

Kites Working Papers 33 (with L. Orsenigo)

It has been long recognised that the role and effects of patents vary considerably across industries. This observation raises immediately to important sets of questions. First, can we document systematically this heterogeneity and can we provide a conceptual framework for explaining this diversity? Second, how should the patent system deal with these differences? Should patent laws be tailored to industry specificities or should they be kept as homogeneous as possible? In this paper, we focus mainly on the first question and only tangentially on the second one. In particular, we try to review what is known about the inter-sectoral differences in the uses of patents and their more recent evolution and we suggest that such diversity is just to expected as it depends on complex interactions between the properties of technologies, the nature of markets and the patterns of competition, the evolution of legislation and its interpretation.


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