The League for Programming Freedom has a dated bibliography relevant to software

Some of the more relevant entries include:

On the complex economics of patent scope
by Robert P. Merges and Richard R. Nelson
Columbia Law Review, May 1990, V90 #4, pp 839-916
Argues that product patents and broad basic patents slow progress.
Contains some good case study information.

Forbes, 3 September 1990, p 46. article on how patents can have a chilling
effect on development (p 46, 3 September 1990)

Fritz Machlup and Edith Penrose, "The Patent Controversy in the Nineteenth
Century," Journal of Economic History 10 (May 1950)--generally critical of

Eric Schiff, _Industrialization without National Patents: The Netherlands,
1869-1919, Switzerland, 1850-1907_ (Princeton University Press,
1971)--suggests that those countries did just fine without a patent system

America By Design
By David F. Noble
Knopf, 1977
Not a basic text but an account of the history of US patent law, among
other things.  Noble argues that patent law has been converted from
protecting inventors to protecting the corporations inventors work for.

An economic review of the patent system:  A study of the Subcommittee on
Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights of the Committee on the Judiciary,
United States Senate
by Fritz Machlup
Forward dated June 30, 1958
Critical of patent system:  it protects that which would become public
knowledge anyway, rewards to inventors are slight, incentives to research
not otherwise done questionable.  There is no empirical evidence to decide
the conflict of theories, however, so safest policy conclusion is to muddle
along without changes.

Imitation costs and patents:  an empirical study
by Edwin Masfield, Mark Schwartz, and Samuel Wagner
The Economic Journal, 91 (December 1981), pp 907-918
>From the conclusion:  "Contrary to the assumption of many economic models,
a patent frequently does not result in a 17-year monopoly over the relevant
innovation.  Patents do tend to increase imitation costs, particularly in
the drug industry, but excluding drugs, patent protection did not seem
essential for the development and introduction of at least three-fourths of
the patented innovations studied here."

The use of patents for the protection of technological innovation:  A case
study of selected Swedish firms
by Ove Granstrand
UNCTAD/ITP/TEC/13, 18 September 1990
>From the "Summary and Conclusion":
"(viii) For both large and small firms, it was confirmed that patents were
regarded as more appropriate for product innovation, while secrecy ws
considred to offer better protection for process innovation."  "For small
firms, patents were of no significant relevance to prevent imiatation.
Such firms rely more on secrecy and technologicla lead time.  The purpose
of patenting for the small firms engaged in patenting (5 out of 11), was
mainly to create bargaining power in negotiations relating to financing,
licensing or co-operation.  For large firms, patents are often viewed as an
alternative to secrecy and the propensity to patent is a function of
expectations.  The firms tend to apply for patents in cases when reverse
engineering is believed not to be costly and infringements could be easily
detected.  Another resaons for patenting is when the enforcement of the
patent law is regarded as effective.  Still other reasons for patentign are
government requirements for ublic disclosure (chemicals, agro-industry) and
the collective behaviour of the firms, which causes firms to patent if one
firm starts patenting in an area that was not previously covered by
(ix) Regarding the effectiveness of patents, the firms regretted the lack
of international standards and the limited effectiveness of patent
protection.  ...
(x)  ...  Small firms have a higher number of patents per employee and per
Swedish crowns spent on research.  However, they also have a lower share of
commercially exploited patents and a higher proportion of patenting costs
of the total R and D expenditures.  This indicates that small firms are
relatively more innovative.  ...
(xii) Patents as an instrument to stimulate innovative activities appeared
to be of little relevance for small firms.  It was found that no
significant changes in the R and D behaviour would take place if the patent
protection time were reduced or extended.  Aslo, for large firms, the R and
D behaviour seems to be rather independent of the availability of patenting
protection.  The survey showed that increased patent protection is likely
to provide, at most, a modest stimulus for R and D activities.  Chemical,
and particularly pharmaceutical, firms appear to be more sensitive to such

International association for the study of common property maintains some links
that may be of relevance:

Brian Martin's article Against Intellectual Property may have some references of

Not directly related to software patents, but Hal Varian and Carl Shapiro's book
_Information Rules_ may be useful:

Hope this helps!

Chris Rasch

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