An article and related perpective/commentary, cited below, in the current issue of Science, are of interest to the PIUG and patent communities.  The authors cite deficiencies in patenting systems as rewards for innovation and evaluated a competing market-based system.  They ran tests on "knapsack" problems where innovators promoted the trading of shares in key components of a (hopefully) marketable innovation (consult the articles for more details).  They conclude that "the patent system is not a universally superior way to incentivize [sic] intellectual discovery).

The commentary ("Economics:  Eyes on the Prize"?) is more reserved.  Several caveats are described and the article concludes with a question on research additionally needed: "How should an innovation be valued?".

IMHO, admitedly an economic idiot (and this is theoretical economic research), the results are not very convincing and way too theoretical.  I'd be interested in further discussion.

-- Bob Buntrock

Science 6 March 2009:
Vol. 323. no. 5919, pp. 1335 - 1339
DOI: 10.1126/science.1158624



Promoting Intellectual Discovery: Patents Versus Markets

Debrah Meloso,1* Jernej Copic,2 Peter Bossaerts3  1 Bocconi University, 20136 Milan, Italy.
2 University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
3 California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, CA 91125, USA, and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:




Science 6 March 2009:
Vol. 323. no. 5919, pp. 1296 - 1297
DOI: 10.1126/science.1171406



ECONOMICS:Eyes on the Prize?

David K. Levine

Is there an optimal cost-benefit scheme for spurring innovation?

Department of Economics, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO 63130-4899. E-mail: