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Intellectual Property Law

Incentives

2020

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The Cost Of Novelty, Will Nicholson Price Ii Mar 2020

The Cost Of Novelty, Will Nicholson Price Ii

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Patent law tries to spur the development of new and better innova­tive technology. But it focuses much more on “new” than “better”—and it turns out that “new” carries real social costs. I argue that patent law promotes innovation that diverges from existing technology, either a little (what I call “differentiating innovation”) or a lot (“exploring innova­tion”), at the expense of innovation that tells us more about existing technology (“deepening innovation”). Patent law’s focus on newness is unsurprising, and fits within a well-told narrative of innovative diversity accompanied by market selection of the best technologies. Unfortunately, innovative ...