This chapter provides an overview of the legal and economic impact of patent pools, with a particular focus on the methods scholars have used to study these institutions empirically. Patent pools are privately governed institutions that license complementary patent rights under unified agreements. Since the first American pools formed in the 1850s, these groups have touched diverse industries and raised challenging policy questions: when is cooperation among patent holders socially productive? Under what circumstances can a patent pool harm competition? Are patent pools sometimes the only way patent holders can extract the full value of the rights they hold? Should the government take affirmative steps to either encourage or discourage patent pools and if so, what forms of intervention are most appropriate? As this chapter explains, great scholarly effort has gone into understanding the impact these groups have had on competition, innovation, and society
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