Optimal Licensing of Uncertain Patents in the Shadow of Litigation

Rabah Amir, David Encaoua, and Yassine Lefouili


This paper investigates the choice of a licensing mechanism by the holder of a patent whose validity is uncertain. We provide sufficient conditions of a general nature under which the licensor prefers to use a per-unit royalty contract. In particular we show that this is the case for the holders of weak patents if the strategic effect of an increase in a potential licensee's unit cost on the equilibrium industry profit is positive. The latter condition is shown to hold in a Cournot (resp. Bertrand) oligopoly with homogeneous (resp. differentiated) products under general assumptions on the demands faced by firms. As a byproduct of our analysis, we contribute to the literature on the cost paradox in oligopoly by offering some new insights of independent interest regarding the effects of cost variations on Cournot and Bertrand equilibria.


Licensing mechanisms; Uncertain patents; Patent litigation; Cost comparative statics;

JEL codes

  • D45: Rationing • Licensing
  • L10: General
  • O32: Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
  • O34: Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

See also

Published in

Games and Economic Behavior, vol. 88, November 2014, pp. 320–338