March 4: Luncheon Series: “Patent Failure” with Jim Bessen of BU Law School


Berkman Center Luncheon Seriesbessenpic.jpg
Guest: Jim Bessen, Lecturer in Law at Boston University School of Law
Topic: Patent Failure

Tuesday, March 4, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center Conference Room
23 Everett St., 2nd Floor, Cambridge MA

Is the U.S. patent system broken? Recently, business leaders, policymakers, and inventors have complained to the media and to Congress that today’s patent system stifles innovation instead of fostering it. James Bessen will discuss a broad range of evidence on the economic performance of the patent system. He finds that patents provide strong incentives for firms in a few industries, but for most firms today, patents actually discourage innovation because they fail to perform as well-defined property rights. This analysis provides a guide to policy reform.

About Jim

James Bessen is recognized as an innovator in the electronic publishing industry, having developed one of the first commercially-successful desktop publishing programs. As both an economics researcher and a hands-on industry participant at different levels, he brings a unique perspective to the study of innovation.

Bessen wrote the first WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) PC publishing software in 1983 and founded a company, Bestinfo, in 1984 to market desktop publishing solutions to commercial publishers. Over the next few years, Bestinfo developed the first system to support PC publishing networks and the first single-source system for commercial-quality page makeup and color imaging. Over 1,000 commercial publishers purchased Bestinfo systems ranging from the Sears Catalogue to Prosveshcheniye (the largest Russian book publisher), from Cahners and Reed (the largest trade magazine publishers in the U.S. and U.K.) to Inc. magazine and TV Guide.

In 1986 Bestinfo received funding from Sevin Rosen Venture Capital with Ben Rosen and Dennis Gorman serving on the Board. In 1993 Bestinfo was acquired by Intergraph.

Bessen is currently Lecturer in Law at Boston University School of Law and he contributes to the Technological Innovation and Intellectual Property newsletter/blog.


+ Bio

+ Book Page (includes several chapters)


This event will be webcast live. Webcast viewers can join the discussion through IRC text chat or in the virtual world Second Life. For information about our event webcasts and remote participation, see…. If you miss the live chat, catch the podcast audio & video at MediaBerkman, at….

RSVP is required, as space is limited. To RSVP, please send an email to Amar Ashar at  rsvp at by March 3 at 12:00PM

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