James Bessen

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Bessen in 2010

James Bessen (born 1950) is an economist who has been a Lecturer at Boston University School of Law since 2004,[1] and was previously a software developer and CEO of a software company. Bessen was also a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.[2]

Bessen researches the economics of innovation, including patents and economic history. He has written about software patents with Eric Maskin, arguing that they might inhibit innovation rather than stimulate progress.[3] With Michael J. Meurer, he wrote Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk[4] as well as papers on patent trolls.[5] His book Learning by Doing: The Real Connection Between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth[6] argues that major new technologies require new skills and knowledge that are slow and difficult to develop, affecting jobs and wages.

Bessen developed the first WYSIWYG desktop publishing program at a community newspaper in Philadelphia in 1983.[7] He established and ran a company, Bestinfo, to sell that program commercially. In 1993, Bestinfo was sold to Intergraph.[8]

He graduated from Harvard University.[9]


  1. ^ http://www.bu.edu/law/faculty/profiles/bios/part-time/bessen.shtml
  2. ^ "Bestinfo: WYSIWYG on an IBM PC," Seybold Report on Publishing Systems, 14(4) pp. 15-23.
  3. ^ Sequential Innovation, Patents, and Imitation, by James Bessen and Eric Maskin, Discussion paper, MIT (2000), published in The RAND Journal of Economics, Volume 40, Issue 4, pages 611–635, Winter 2009
  4. ^ Princeton University Press (2008)
  5. ^ "The Direct Costs from NPE Disputes," Cornell Law Review, v. 99 (2014) "The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls," Regulation, 34(4), Winter 2011-12
  6. ^ Yale University Press (2015)
  7. ^ "What You See Is Pretty Close to What You Get: New h&j, pagination program for IBM PC," Seybold Report on Publishing Systems, 13(10), February 13, 1984, pp. 21-2.
  8. ^ http://scripting.com/seybold/stories/970206.html
  9. ^ https://www.bu.edu/law/profile/james-bessen/

External links[edit]

  • "Official website". Research on Innovation.