Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property Rights

Innovation, Governance and the Institutional Environment

Edited by Birgitte Andersen

Intellectual Property Rights is cutting edge in addressing current debates affecting businesses, industry sectors and society today, and in focusing not only on the enabling welfare effects of IPR systems, but also on some of the possible adverse effects of IPR systems.

Chapter 1: The Market Economy and the Scientific Commons

Richard R. Nelson

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of innovation, intellectual property, innovation and technology, economics of innovation, intellectual property, law - academic, intellectual property law

Extract

* Richard R. Nelson ABSTRACT In principle there is a clear divide between science and technology. In practice there isn’t. In principle, while practical inventions can be patented, scientific findings can’t be. In practice, increasingly scientific findings are being patented. The argument of this paper is that this is bad for the advance of science and for the advance of technology. However, because of the blurry lines, it will not be easy to deal with. The paper lays out a strategy that at least has some promise. Keywords: Markets, Commons, Capitalism 1 INTRODUCTION Modern capitalism has proved a remarkably powerful engine of technological progress. Most of the attention to its workings has focused on the business firms and entrepreneurs, operating in a market setting, who are the central actors in developing and introducing new products and processes. At the same time it is widely recognized that the power of market stimulated and guided invention and innovation is often dependent on the strength of the science base from which they draw (Nelson, 1993, Mowery and Nelson, 1999). This science base is largely the product of publicly funded research, and the knowledge produced by that research is largely open and available for potential innovators to use. That is, the market part of the capitalist engine rests on a publicly supported scientific commons. The message of this chapter is that the scientific commons are becoming privatized. While this privatization up to now has been relatively limited, * Reprinted from Research Policy,...

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