Department of Management

The Seductive-Plausibility of Patent Hold-Up Myths — A Flawed Historiography of Patents

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In previous work we have shown that a flawed historiography of patents continues to be the basis for patent policy advocacy. We set out objective standards of evidence that allegations of development block due to assertion of patents must meet. We show the extent of the errors in the historical record in the aircraft, automobile, radio and incandescent lamp technologies. We then evaluate how they measure against the objective standards. We find many simple errors and that an absence of indicia of development block characterise scholarship alleging that assertion of patents blocked development. We argue that scholars award too great credence to the truth-value of published historiography and place too great an evidentiary burden on those who would refute “retardation.” We propose that future scholarship employ our objective standard for evidence of development block. Our analysis of multiple case studies subjected to such standards justifies the rebuttable presumption that “pioneer patents have never blocked development”.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year19 Oct 2017
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2017
EventThe Value of Patents: Inventors and Intellectual Property from the Steam Engine to Software - Thomas B Fordham Foundation, 1016, 16th St, NW, Washington DC 20036, United States
Duration: 19 Oct 201720 Oct 2017


WorkshopThe Value of Patents
LocationThomas B Fordham Foundation, 1016, 16th St, NW
CountryUnited States
CityWashington DC 20036
Internet address

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