Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer
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Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer

Edited by Jacob H. Rooksby

Written by leading experts from across the world, this Handbook expertly places intellectual property issues in technology transfer into their historical and political context whilst also exploring and framing the development of these intersecting domains for innovative universities in the present and the future.
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Chapter 15: Is patent enforcement efficient?

Mark A Lemley and Robin Feldman

Abstract

Traditional justifications for patents are all based on direct or indirect contribution to the creation of new products. Patents serve the social interest if they provide not just invention, but innovation the world would not otherwise have. Non-practicing entities (“NPEs”) as well as product-producing companies can sometimes provide such innovation, either directly, through working the patent or transferring technology to others who do, or indirectly, when others copy the patented innovation. The available evidence suggests, however, that patent licensing demands and lawsuits from NPEs are normally not cases that involve any of these activities. Some scholars have argued that patents can be valuable even without technology transfer because the ability to exclude others from the market may drive commercialization that would not otherwise occur. We demonstrate that even if various commercialization theories can sometimes justify patent protection, they cannot justify most NPE lawsuits or licensing demands.

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