Does the US patent system as currently constituted hold up or push forward the commercialization of technological innovations?
Does the US patent system frustrate or facilitate the inventive activities and entrepreneurial processes central to economic growth?

The US patent system is a solution to a delicate balancing act where the complete absence of intellectual property rights or the overly broad specification of those rights can thwart innovation. Inventors require the means to earn a return on the years spent perfecting an invention. Conversely, patents extending in perpetuity that require licensing and royalty payments would dissuade legitimate use and encourage excessive imitation. Further, a patent system providing property rights to the original patent holder for all future inventions that built on the original idea is nonoptimal.
Such an unbalanced system would discourage innovation. The US patent system addresses the need for balance by
•    Providing a fixed-term property right for a specific and novel invention
•    Requiring, in turn, that the design features of the invention be widely disseminated so that they enter the public domain once the term of the patent expires
•    Permitting a patentee to exchange or license the patented invention

The Hoover Institution Working Group on Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Prosperity (Hoover IP2) reviews the premises of the US patent system and addresses questions of scope, specification, duration, and economic impact of that system.
Hoover IP2’s goals are to
• Build a dense network of scholars, from a variety of academic disciplines, who are engaged in research on the US patent system
• Analyze the implications that may be drawn from those research results
• Publish the resulting scholarship in peer-reviewed venues
• Disseminate that scholarship to the larger public

A video of the conference is below


Time Content Panelists Moderator
2:00 PM


Shira Perlmutter, US Patent and Trademark Office

Richard Sousa, Hoover Institution


2:15 PM

The Edison Scholar Program at the USPTO: Results and Contributions

Joseph Bailey, University of Maryland

Deepak Hegde, New York University

Joshua Sarnoff, DePaul University

Tim Simcoe, President's Council of Economic Advisors and Boston University

3:30 PM




3:45 PM

Roundtable: "How can the academy best contribute to IP Policy"

Stephen Haber, Hoover Institution and Stanford University

Jay Kesan, University of Illinois

Joshua Wright, US Federal Trade Commission and George Mason University

Alan Marco, USPTO

F. Scott Kieff, US International Trade Commission and George Washington University

5:00 PM

Cocktail Reception




Joseph Bailey, Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholar, US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); research associate professor, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

Stephen Haber, Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; A.A. and Jeanne Welch Milligan Professor, School of Humanities and Sciences; professor, political science, history, and (by courtesy) economics, Stanford University; director, Hoover Institution Working Group on Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Prosperity (Hoover IP2)

Deepak Hegde, Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholar, USPTO; assistant professor of management and organizations, Stern School of Business, NYU; Thomas Edison Innovation Fellow, George Mason University School of Law, Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property; affiliate, CESifo Research Network, University of Munich

Jay Kesan, research scholar, University of Illinois College of Law, and director, Program in Intellectual Property & Technology Law, University of Illinois College of Law; former Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholar, USPTO

F. Scott Kieff, commissioner of the US International Trade Commission, Fred C. Stevenson Research Professor (on leave), George Washington University Law School; formerly, Ray and Louise Knowles Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Alan Marco, chief economist, USPTO

Shira Perlmutter, chief policy officer and director for international affairs, USPTO

Joshua Sarnoff, Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholar, USPTO; professor, College of Law, DePaul University; faculty member and former director, Center for Intellectual Property Law & Information Technology (CIPLIT®)

Tim Simcoe, senior economist, President’s Council of Economic Advisers; associate professor of strategy and innovation (on leave), School of Management, Boston University; faculty research fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research

Richard Sousa, research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; member, Hoover IP2 steering committee

Joshua D. Wright, commissioner, US Federal Trade Commission; professor, School of Law, George Mason University; professor (by courtesy) department of economics, George Mason University


The Thomas Alva Edison Visiting Scholars Program at The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) enlists the services of distinguished academic researchers to study intellectual property (IP) issues that further the agency's mission and the public interest. Since the program introduction in 2012, Edison Scholars have studied ways to improve USPTO's efficiency and performance, decrease burdens on applicants, and improve patent quality and clarity, among other topics. Edison Scholars devote up to six months of service to the agency on a full time basis.

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