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An Empirical Look at Software Patents
- (NOTE: The information on this page, unless otherwise stated, is from the 2004 working version of the report which is freely available online. If you have a copy of the 2007 final version, it would be very useful if you could add information to this page and check that the information here isn't modified in the final version. Thanks.)
An Empirical Look at Software Patents is a paper jointly published in March 2004 by:
- James E. Bessen, Research on Innovation; Boston University - School of Law
- Robert M. Hunt, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
A version tagged "Working Paper" was published freely online in 2004 and is by far the most referenced version. The final version was published in 2007 but is not freely available.
 Interesting parts
From the Abstract:
[...]The very large increase in software patent propensity over time is not adequately explained by changes in R&D investments, employment of computer programmers, or productivity growth. [...] We find evidence that software patents substitute for R&D at the firm level; they are associated with lower R&D intensity[...]
Page 37 claims that the USPTO grants 70 software patents per day.
From the conclusion:
For industries like software or computer, there is actually good reason to believe that imitation becomes a spur to innovation, while strong patents become an impediment
 Related pages on en.swpat.org
- The final version, Spring 2007 - for sale only
- The 2004 draft of the paper - freely downloadable
- The Software Patent Experiment, an article published at the same time by the same two authors
- A Review of Bessen and Hunt's Analysis of Software Patents by American Enterprise Institute's Robert Hahn and Scott Wallsten
- Bessen and Hunt's reply to Hahn and Wallsten
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