James Bessen is an economist who serves as Executive Director of the Technology & Policy Research Initiative at Boston University School of Law. Bessen has done research on whether patents promote innovation, why innovators share new knowledge, and how technology affects jobs, skills, and wages. With Michael J. Meurer, Bessen co-authored Patent Failure (Princeton University Press, 2008), highlighting the problems caused by poorly defined property rights. His research first documented the large economic damage caused by patent trolls and showed the link between information technology and job growth.
Bessen’s latest book, Learning by Doing: The Real Connection Between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth (Yale University Press, 2015), looks at history to understand how new technologies affect wages and skills today. He has been widely cited in the press, as well as by the White House, the U.S. Supreme Court, judges at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and the Federal Trade Commission.
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.