By Fritz Machlup
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Additional info for An economic review of the patent system (Study of the Subcommittee on Patents, Trade-marks, and Copyrights of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, study)
Those who advance various economic justifications for patent protection have the traditional terms-between 14 and 20 years-in mind, even if they fail to say why this should be the right duration. Perhaps the "exchangefor-secrets" thesis comes closest to an implicit endorsement of a particular period of protection-on the basis of some sort of average length of time in which technological secrets could be detected and put to use by competing producers. Thus, Leon 'ATalrasheld that if an inventor who was not sure he could guard his secret demandedthe protection of the state in the exploitation of his mouopoly for a specified time on condition that.
Pp. 07-81. 28 AN ~ N O M I CREVIEW OF THE PATENT SYSTEM I n a similar vein, John Bates Clark attributed to patent monopolies a role in reducingVexistingmonopoly power: While a patent may sometimes sustain a powerful monopoly i t may also afford the best means of breaking one up. 51 Others, however, were less sanguine about the supposedly short-lived monopoly positions created by patents. " lK2 J. B. I63 Lionel Robbins describes the influence of patent protection as follows: Not merely does i t directly protect the manufacturer of patented articles; i t also permits the creation of a whole network of tying contracts, forced joint supply, resale price maintenance and other trade practices, not particularly conspicuous in themselves but cumulatively highly conducive to the consolidation of mono~olisticconditions.
13B One of the issues most fervently debated before 1873 disa peared almost completely from the agenda: the question whether t ere is, can be, or ought to be a "property" in an invention, in a novel technological idea. s no longer necessary for economists to argue against the legal constructions of "property rights" in inventions. This conception had been most popular in France and it is no surprise that a French economist seems to be the only one who mentioned it without reject,ing it. This is what Leon Walras had to say on this point: % Our analysis shows that monopoly is opposed t o the best interests of society and that the intervention of the state is founded upon the interest of society.