Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Licensing contracts and the number of licenses under screening

Antelo, Manel and Antonio, Sampayo (2017): Licensing contracts and the number of licenses under screening.

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This paper examines the licensing of an innovation—by a patent holder to one or more users—when the innovation’s value (high or low) is known, after the contract is signed, by each user. In this setup, we analyze the patent holder’s joint decision concerning the number of licenses and the type of contracts. Our first main finding is that, depending on how uncertain is the efficiency of users exploiting the innovation, both shut-down contracts and screening contracts can emerge in equilibrium. Second, shut-down contracts amount to fixed fees under exclusive licensing but are two-part contracts under non-exclusive licensing. Third, there is distorted production at the bottom of the innovation value’s distribution under exclusive licensing as well as distortion at both the bottom and the top of that distribution under non-exclusive licensing. Fourth, asymmetric information favors the latter (i.e., issuing multiple licenses) except when the patent holder uses a screening contract, since then the need to distort production at both the bottom and the top renders non-exclusive licensing less profitable. Our final result is that the number of licenses issued by the patent holder is more likely to maximize aggregate surplus under asymmetric information than under symmetric information.

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