Research Summary

Are Patents Creative or Destructive?

by Tom Nicholas


Current debate over patent aggregation has led to renewed interest in the long standing question concerning whether patents are a creative or a destructive influence on the process of technological development. In this paper I examine the basic patent tradeoff between incentives and monopoly distortions in light of recent contributions to the literature. I outline where patents can function effectively, where they can be damaging and where additional complementary mechanisms to spur innovation may be appropriate.