James Bessen is a scholar who studies the economics of innovation and patents. He has also been a successful innovator and CEO of a software company. Currently, Mr. Bessen is Lecturer in Law at the Boston University School of Law and Fellow at the Berkman Center on Internet and Society at Harvard.
Bessen has done research on whether patents promote innovation, how and why innovators share new knowledge, and on how firms developed new skills and technical knowledge during the Industrial Revolution. His research on software patents with Eric Maskin (Nobel Laureate in Economics) and Robert Hunt has influenced policymakers in the US, Europe, Australia and elsewhere. His book, Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk (Princeton 2008) with Michael J. Meurer, highlights the problems caused by poorly defined property rights ("patent notice"). This work has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, by judges at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and in a report by the Federal Trade Commission on patent notice.
In 1983, Bessen developed the first commercially successful "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" PC publishing program, founding a company that delivered PC-based publishing systems to high-end commercial publishers. Intergraph Corporation acquired the company in 1993.