Intellectual Property Rights in Frontier Industries: Software and Biotechnology

Innovation and Economic Growth and Intellectual Property

Article Snapshot


Dan Burk, Iain M. Cockburn, Wesley Cohen, Robert W. Hahn, Mark Lemley, David C. Mowery and Arti K. Rai


AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, 2005


This book considers the debate whether patents are good or bad for cutting- edge technology like software and biotech.

Policy Relevance

There is some consensus that patents pose problems for innovation, but little consensus on severity or solutions.

Main Points

  • Stuart Graham and David Mowery argue that little evidence shows that software patents are good, and there is likewise little evidence that they are harmful.

  • Dan Burk and Mark Lemley argue that the courts should refine case law so that software patents describe in detail the protected innovation and are narrower.

  • Ian Cockburn explains that inconsistencies between patent rules for software and for biotechnology cause problems in patenting “bioinformatics,” a combination of the two fields.

  • Arti Rae and Wesley Cohen explore whether methods used in open source software are also useful in biomedical research.

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