Patent publication and innovation
Patents seek to trade off the benefits to the inventor of exclusivity with the social benefits of disclosure to the public. Most studies of the patent system focus on the benefits of exclusivity. This column analyses the broader impacts of patents on innovation, leveraging a change in patent disclosure requirements in the US in 1999. Accelerating patent publication by two years increases future patent citations by 15% relative to the baseline, suggesting a significant impact on knowledge diffusion. This finding is contrary to historical arguments that patent disclosure stifles innovation or does not reveal useful information.