Document Type



Oren Bar-Gill* and **Gideon Parchomovsky** * Harvard University, the Society of Fellows, and Harvard Law School, the John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics and Business. ** University of Pennsylvania Law School. This paper greatly benefited from comments and criticisms by Ian Ayres, Lucian Bebchuk, Omri Ben-Shahar, Yochai Benkler, James Bessen, Chaim Fershtman, Zohar Goshen, Oliver Hart, Josh Lerner, Robert Merges, Eric Posner, Ariel Porat, Mark Ramseyer, Edward Rock, Chris Sanchirico, Steven Shavell, Peter Siegelman, Omri Yadlin and seminar participants at Boston University and Penn. We thank Efrat Procaccia for excellent research assistance. Finally, we thank the John M. Olin Center for Law, Economics and Business at Harvard Law School and the William F. Milton Fund of Harvard University for generous financial support.


Arrow’s disclosure paradox implies that information that is not afforded legal protection cannot be bought or sold on the market. This paper emphasizes the important relationship between the paradox of disclosure and the boundaries of the firm question. Only legally protected inventions, i.e., patented inventions, may be traded; pre-patent stages of the innovation process may not. Consequently, by force of law, rather than by the guidance of economic principle, pre-patent innovation must be carried out within the boundaries of a single firm.

Date of Authorship for this Version

February 2005


Boundaries of the firm, disclosure paradox, intellectual property law