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Incidence and Growth of Patent Thickets: The Impact of Technological Opportunities and Complexity

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  • Georg Graevenitz
  • Stefan Wagner
  • Dietmar Harhoff

Abstract

We investigate incidence and evolution of patent thickets. Our empirical analysis is based on a theoretical model of patenting in complex and discrete technologies. The model captures how competition for patent portfolios and complementarity of patents affect patenting incentives. We show that lower technological opportunities increase patenting incentives in complex technologies while they decrease incentives in discrete technologies. Also, more competitors increase patenting incentives in complex technologies and reduce them in discrete technologies. To test these predictions a new measure of the density of patent thickets is introduced. European patent citations are used to construct measures of fragmentation and technological opportunity. Our empirical analysis is based on a panel capturing patenting behavior of 2074 firms in 30 technology areas over 15 years. GMM estimation results confirm the predictions of our theoretical model. The results show that patent thickets exist in 9 out of 30 technology areas. We find that decreased technological opportunities are a surprisingly strong driver of patent thicket growth.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal The Journal of Industrial Economics.

Volume (Year): 61 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (09)
Pages: 521-563

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jindec:v:61:y:2013:i:3:p:521-563

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References

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  1. Michael Noel & Mark Schankerman, 2006. "Strategic Patenting and Software Innovation," CEP Discussion Papers dp0740, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Christian Le Bas & Julien Pénin, 2014. "Patents and innovation : Are the brakes broken, or how to restore patents’ dynamic efficiency ?," Working Papers of BETA 2014-02, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  2. NAGAOKA Sadao & NISHIMURA Yoichiro, 2014. "Complementarity, Fragmentation, and the Effects of Patent Thickets," Discussion papers 14001, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  3. David S. Abrams & Ufuk Akcigit & Jillian Popadak, 2013. "Patent Value and Citations: Creative Destruction or Strategic Disruption?," NBER Working Papers 19647, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Schwiebacher, Franz, 2012. "Complementary assets, patent thickets and hold-up threats: Do transaction costs undermine investments in innovation?," ZEW Discussion Papers 12-015, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  5. Hall, Bronwyn H. & Thoma, Grid & Torrisi, Salvatore, 2010. "Financial Patenting in Europe," MERIT Working Papers 011, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  6. Erik Lehmann & Thorsten Braun & Sebastian Krispin, 2012. "Entrepreneurial human capital, complementary assets, and takeover probability," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 37(5), pages 589-608, October.
  7. Harhoff, Dietmar & von Graevenitz, Georg & Wagner, Stefan, 2013. "Conflict Resolution, Public Goods and Patent Thickets," CEPR Discussion Papers 9468, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Grimpe, Christoph & Hussinger, Katrin, 2014. "Pre-empted patents, infringed patents and firms’ participation in markets for technology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 543-554.
  9. Siebert, Ralph Bernd & Graevenitz, Georg von, 2010. "Licensing in the Patent Thicket - Timing and Benefits," MPRA Paper 24007, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Schwiebacher, Franz, 2013. "Does fragmented or heterogeneous IP ownership stifle investments in innovation?," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-096, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  11. Sternitzke, Christian, 2013. "An exploratory analysis of patent fencing in pharmaceuticals: The case of PDE5 inhibitors," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 542-551.
  12. David S. Abrams & Ufuk Akcigit & Jillian Popadak, 2013. "Patent Value and Citations: Creative Destruction or Strategic Disruption?," PIER Working Paper Archive 13-065, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  13. Doh-Shin Jeon & Yassine Lefouili, 2013. "Cross-Licensing and Competition," Working Papers 13-11, NET Institute.
  14. Carsten Fink & Mosahid Khan & Hao Zhou, 2013. "Exploring the worldwide patent surge," WIPO Economic Research Working Papers 12, World Intellectual Property Organization - Economics and Statistics Division.
  15. Philippe Aghion & Peter Howitt & Susanne Prantl, 2013. "Patent Rights, Product Market Reforms, and Innovation," NBER Working Papers 18854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Katharine Rockett, 2009. "Property Rights and Invention," Economics Discussion Papers 663, University of Essex, Department of Economics.

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