Assessing the Impact of Field-of-Use Restrictions in Patent Licensing Agreements: The Ethical Pharmaceutical Industry in the United States, 1950–1962


There are a number of strategies employed by companies to limit price competition, including patenting. This article investigates patent licensing restrictions as a strategy to erode price competition, using mainly information gleaned from the 1960–1962 Kefauver Committee hearings. The article deals with the pharmaceutical industry, which is one of the few sectors in which patents are essential to the development and introduction of innovations. The current study adds to a body of literature that has yielded mixed results with respect to the role of patents in this industry. The main contribution of this research is that restrictive licensing clauses, specifically field-of-use restrictions, are found to be relevant in eroding price competition in the institutional market. However, in the retail ethical market, price competition was absent even when no field-of-use restrictions were included in licensing contracts, although product competition was relevant between patented drugs.