Is the U.S. patent system broken? Recently, business leaders, policymakers, and inventors have complained to the media and to Congress that today's patent system stifles innovation instead of fostering it. James Bessen will discuss a broad range of evidence on the economic performance of the patent system. He finds that patents provide strong incentives for firms in a few industries, but for most firms today, patents actually discourage innovation because they fail to perform as well-defined property rights. This analysis provides a guide to policy reform.
James Bessen is recognized as an innovator in the electronic publishing industry, having developed one of the first commercially-successful desktop publishing programs. As both an economics researcher and a hands-on industry participant at different levels, he brings a unique perspective to the study of innovation.
Bessen wrote the first WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) PC publishing software in 1983 and founded a company, Bestinfo, in 1984 to market desktop publishing solutions to commercial publishers. Over the next few years, Bestinfo developed the first system to support PC publishing networks and the first single-source system for commercial-quality page makeup and color imaging. Over 1,000 commercial publishers purchased Bestinfo systems ranging from the Sears Catalogue to Prosveshcheniye (the largest Russian book publisher), from Cahners and Reed (the largest trade magazine publishers in the U.S. and U.K.) to Inc. magazine and TV Guide.
Bessen is currently Lecturer in Law at Boston University School of Law and he contributes to the Technological Innovation and Intellectual Property newsletter/blog.
Last updated April 17, 2008