Colleen Chien, ‘Inequality, Innovation, and Intellectual Property’

This article explores the relationship between innovation, intellectual property, and inequality, making three contributions. First, it reveals how shifts in patented innovation over the last several decades have contributed to broader social and economic shifts, away from manufacturing-based, domestic, and independent innovation, and towards digital, foreign, and corporate innovation, validating both optimistic accounts of immigration-driven, digital prosperity and pessimistic accounts of the shrinking role of domestic innovators. Second, it offers a framework for understanding the relationship between innovation and inequality that includes both the potentially inequality-increasing impacts of innovation and the potentially inequality-decreasing impacts of innovation and specifies the contribution of intellectual property to these dynamics . To minimize the risk of inequality-driven stagnation and maximize the social benefits of innovation, it argues, more attention should be paid to inclusion in innovation, and on tracking not only the amount but distribution of innovation. To demonstrate the value of tracking inclusion in approach, third, it finds that the share of patents held by small and micro entities has declined from 2000 to the present, from 33% to 28.5%. It also documents, for the first time, increases in the concentration of patent ownership, with the top percent of grantees capturing 53% of new grants in 2016, up from 38% in 1986.

Chien, Colleen V, Inequality, Innovation, and Intellectual Property (April 6, 2018). Santa Clara University Legal Studies Research Paper No 3-18.

First posted 2018-04-10 06:39:22

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