What are the costs and benefits of patent systems?

There do not appear to be any cost-benefit assessments of the impact of patent systems, nor any data that can be used to directly assess the economic impact of patent systems. Discussions of patent policy therefore tend to be theoretical, and any evidence used is anecdotal rather than scientifically based. A wider search shows, however, that there is substantial empirical material on the costs and benefits of patent systems published in a very diverse range of journals and working papers. While these do not allow a full assessment of the economic impact of patent systems, they do provide useful evidence on many aspects of the impact of patent systems. This evidence is drawn together in this summary overview. The objective is to assist in a move towards an evidence-based discussion of patents as a central issue in innovation policy.
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