Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Commercial Success and Patent Standards: Economic Perspectives on Innovation

Robert P. Merges
California Law Review
Vol. 76, No. 4 (Jul., 1988), pp. 803-876
DOI: 10.2307/3480538
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3480538
Page Count: 74
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
Commercial Success and Patent Standards: Economic Perspectives on Innovation
Preview not available

Abstract

This Article criticizes a recent line of patent decisions in which the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has considered evidence of an innovation's commercial success in deciding whether to award a patent to the innovator. Professor Merges briefly reviews the history of patent law and concludes that one of its principle purposes is to reward "invention," or the achievement of a significant technical advance and thereby to spur innovative technological development. He notes, however, that recently, the Federal Circuit has begun to consider "secondary factors," including the financial success of a commercialized invention, and the extent to which other firms have licensed it, in determining whether the invention constitutes a significant technical advance worthy of patent protection. Moreover, he asserts that the Federal Circuit has increased dramatically the importance of these factors by not only giving them substantive weight, but also by reducing evidentiary and procedural obstacles to their use. The Author employs empirical economic research and economic theory to illustrate that this trend is counterproductive. Reliance on secondary factors, he argues, tends to reward nontechnical achievements such as superior distribution systems, marketing decisions, and service networks, instead of rewarding actual invention. As a result, he concludes, the Federal Circuit's decisions may be impairing the patent system by rewarding inventions that are commercially successful but that represent relatively minor technological advances. The Article concludes with some alternative approaches that more appropriately proscribe the use of commercial success and licensing as factors in determining patentability.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
803
    803
  • Thumbnail: Page 
804
    804
  • Thumbnail: Page 
805
    805
  • Thumbnail: Page 
806
    806
  • Thumbnail: Page 
807
    807
  • Thumbnail: Page 
808
    808
  • Thumbnail: Page 
809
    809
  • Thumbnail: Page 
810
    810
  • Thumbnail: Page 
811
    811
  • Thumbnail: Page 
812
    812
  • Thumbnail: Page 
813
    813
  • Thumbnail: Page 
814
    814
  • Thumbnail: Page 
815
    815
  • Thumbnail: Page 
816
    816
  • Thumbnail: Page 
817
    817
  • Thumbnail: Page 
818
    818
  • Thumbnail: Page 
819
    819
  • Thumbnail: Page 
820
    820
  • Thumbnail: Page 
821
    821
  • Thumbnail: Page 
822
    822
  • Thumbnail: Page 
823
    823
  • Thumbnail: Page 
824
    824
  • Thumbnail: Page 
825
    825
  • Thumbnail: Page 
826
    826
  • Thumbnail: Page 
827
    827
  • Thumbnail: Page 
828
    828
  • Thumbnail: Page 
829
    829
  • Thumbnail: Page 
830
    830
  • Thumbnail: Page 
831
    831
  • Thumbnail: Page 
832
    832
  • Thumbnail: Page 
833
    833
  • Thumbnail: Page 
834
    834
  • Thumbnail: Page 
835
    835
  • Thumbnail: Page 
836
    836
  • Thumbnail: Page 
837
    837
  • Thumbnail: Page 
838
    838
  • Thumbnail: Page 
839
    839
  • Thumbnail: Page 
840
    840
  • Thumbnail: Page 
841
    841
  • Thumbnail: Page 
842
    842
  • Thumbnail: Page 
843
    843
  • Thumbnail: Page 
844
    844
  • Thumbnail: Page 
845
    845
  • Thumbnail: Page 
846
    846
  • Thumbnail: Page 
847
    847
  • Thumbnail: Page 
848
    848
  • Thumbnail: Page 
849
    849
  • Thumbnail: Page 
850
    850
  • Thumbnail: Page 
851
    851
  • Thumbnail: Page 
852
    852
  • Thumbnail: Page 
853
    853
  • Thumbnail: Page 
854
    854
  • Thumbnail: Page 
855
    855
  • Thumbnail: Page 
856
    856
  • Thumbnail: Page 
857
    857
  • Thumbnail: Page 
858
    858
  • Thumbnail: Page 
859
    859
  • Thumbnail: Page 
860
    860
  • Thumbnail: Page 
861
    861
  • Thumbnail: Page 
862
    862
  • Thumbnail: Page 
863
    863
  • Thumbnail: Page 
864
    864
  • Thumbnail: Page 
865
    865
  • Thumbnail: Page 
866
    866
  • Thumbnail: Page 
867
    867
  • Thumbnail: Page 
868
    868
  • Thumbnail: Page 
869
    869
  • Thumbnail: Page 
870
    870
  • Thumbnail: Page 
871
    871
  • Thumbnail: Page 
872
    872
  • Thumbnail: Page 
873
    873
  • Thumbnail: Page 
874
    874
  • Thumbnail: Page 
875
    875
  • Thumbnail: Page 
876
    876