Essays on Technological Development




Youngberg, David V.

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While patents encourage inventors to develop new technology by providing them with a monopoly on their invention, that same monopoly hampers the development of downstream invention. A technology prize—a cash award to the first to complete a predetermined technological problem—preserves the incentive to invent without hampering future inventions. This dissertation makes the case for technology prizes in three parts. First, I argue that concerns over replicating inventing efforts are an overestimated danger because efforts are often of divergent strategies which create knowledge spillovers. I then empirically demonstrate that defensive patenting is a real concern: the more technology workers within an industry change jobs, the more likely firms will patent their trade secrets and clog the patent system with lesser quality inventions. I end with describing how a prize system would work in a government framework and employ information markets and truth-bonding to combat rent seeking.



Technology, Spillover, Patents, Mobility, Prizes