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In this Article, we propose a way to improve the workings of the patent system. Unlike most extant reform proposals that focus on the USPTO and the Federal Circuit and the procedures they employ, our proposal is concep- tual in nature. We introduce two new intellectual property forms — “quasi- patents” and “semi-patents.” Both forms are designed to mitigate the social costs of traditional patents by increasing the use and availability of new inventions and research information. Quasi-patents, as we define them, would avail only against direct business competitors of the inventor, but not against anyone else. Semi-patents would have the same scope as traditional patents, but their grant would be conditioned on an applicant’s consent to publish all research information pertaining to the protected invention. These two new forms would complement, and not replace, traditional patents. They would impose minimal administrative costs and would be compatible with most extant proposals to reform the patent system. Together, quasi-patents and semi-patents could mitigate the costs of traditional patents on subsequent inventors and thus open the path for more innovation.

Publication Title

Columbia Law Review

Publication Citation

111 Colum. L. Rev. 207 (2011)