Journal of Law and Economics
Research ﬁrms disclose a surprisingly large amount of information to the patent ofﬁce through “targeted” disclosures, that is, disclosures intended to make the patent ofﬁce aware of potentially patentable information. Conventional wisdom holds that these disclosures are made for defensive purposes; the disclosing ﬁrm does not itself plan to pursue patents related to the disclosed information, so the ﬁrm discloses to create prior art that might stop rivals from patenting. But ﬁrms have an incentive to disclose even if they intend to pursue patent protection. The reason is that, by making it more difﬁcult to patent, disclosure extends the patent race. If an invention of a certain quality would have been sufﬁcient to qualify for patent protection before the disclosure, after the disclosure any invention must be that much better before it will represent a sufﬁcient advance over the now-expanded prior art. This paper models disclosure strategies of this sort.
Patent Law, Disclosure, Strategy
48 J.L. & Econ. 173 (2005)
Baker, Scott and Mezzetti, Claudio, "Disclosure as a Strategy in the Patent Race" (2005). Scholarship@WashULaw. 42.