Crouch’s December report on new academic research

Here is a limited set of recent papers that I have found interesting.

Bronwyn Hall & Manuel Trajtenberg, Uncovering General Purpose Technologies with Patent Data, NBER Working Paper.

The authors discuss their technique for finding "general purpose technologies" using patent data.  It is thought that there are a few technologies that are extremely pervasive in various sectors of the economy and are thus important building blocks for further technological development.  In addition to giving us their formula for finding these important technologies using patent data, Hall & Trajtenberg also provide a listing of GPTs in their appendix.

Douglas Lichtman, How the Law Responds to Self Help, UChicago Working Paper.

Chapter IV deals with patents: Lichtman focuses on what measures the proverbial "bad man" who owns a patent should be allowed to do.  "Courts would need to be able to distinguish instances where a patent holder is attempting to profit from the patented invention, which presumably should be allowed, from instances where a patent holder is instead attempting to protect profits that derive from some underlying illegal act, which probably should not be [allowed]."

Gary Becker and Richard Posner, Pharma Patents (Not really "academic").

I was lucky enough to take part in a weekly seminar with Richard Posner, Gary Becker, and Doug Lichtman (above) while a law school student.  These three are great thinkers — Posner and Becker have now started their own blog.  Although Lichtman may not follow with his own blog, he has certainly been a contributor to several on-line formats including Patently-O, Crescat Sententia, and Lessig Blog

Today, Becker & Posner discuss pharmaceutical patents:

POSNER: Patents are a source of great social costs, and only occasionally of commensurate benefits.

BECKER: I do not like the hype and some other salesmanship of big pharma and bio-tech companies, but this industry has made enormous contributions to raising world health. It is likely to become even more important in the future as drugs are developed to match individual genetic differences. One does not want to kill this goose that is laying golden eggs by ill-thought out and counterproductive "reforms".

Please e-mail me with new research.