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Post-Issue Patent "Quality Control": A Comparative Study of US Patent Re-examinations and European Patent Oppositions

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  • Graham, Stuart J. H.
  • Hall, Bronwyn H.
  • Harhoff, Dietmar
  • Mowery, David C.

Abstract

We report the results of the first comparative study of the determinants and effects of patent oppositions in Europe and of re-examinations on corresponding patents issued in the United States. The analysis is based on a dataset consisting of matched EPO and US patents. Our analysis focuses on two broad technology categories - biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, and semiconductors and computer software. Within these fields, we collect data on all EPO patents for which oppositions were filed at the EPO. We also construct a random sample of EPO patents with no opposition in these technologies. We match these EPO patents with the “equivalent†US patents covering the same invention in the United States. Using the matched sample of USPTO and EPO patents, we compare the determinants of opposition and of reexamination. Our results indicate that valuable patents are more likely to be challenged in both jurisdictions. But the rate of opposition at the EPO is more than thirty times higher than the rate of reexamination at the USPTO. Moreover, opposition leads to a revocation of the patent in about 41 percent of the cases, and to a restriction of the patent right in another 30 percent of the cases. Re-examination results in a cancellation of the patent right in only 12.2 percent of all cases. We also find that reexamination is frequently initiated by the patentholders themselves.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt8bs830w9.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt8bs830w9

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Keywords: patent system; litigation; intellectual property; opposition; re-examination;

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  1. Harhoff, Dietmar & Reitzig, Markus, 2002. "Determinants of Opposition Against EPO Patent Grants - The Case of Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals," CEPR Discussion Papers 3645, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Ashish Arora, 1995. "Licensing Tacit Knowledge: Intellectual Property Rights And The Market For Know-How," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 41-60.
  3. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1987. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial Research and Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 783-832.
  4. Kortum, Samuel & Lerner, Josh, 1999. "What is behind the recent surge in patenting?1," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-22, January.
  5. F. M. Scherer, 1965. "Corporate Inventive Output, Profits, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 290.
  6. Samuel Kortum & Josh Lerner, 1997. "Stronger Protection or Technological Revolution: What is Behind the Recent Surge in Patenting?," NBER Working Papers 6204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Teece, David J., 1986. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 285-305, December.
  9. Mowery,David C. & Nelson,Richard R. (ed.), 1999. "Sources of Industrial Leadership," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521645201.
  10. Jean O. Lanjouw & Josh Lerner, 1996. "Preliminary Injunctive Relief: Theory and Evidence from Patent Litigation," NBER Working Papers 5689, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Jean O. Lanjouw & Josh Lerner, 1997. "The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights: A Survey of the Empirical Literature," NBER Working Papers 6296, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. George L. Priest & Benjamin Klein, 1984. "The Selection of Disputes for Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 1-56, January.
  13. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1988. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial R&D," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 862, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  14. Robert M. Hunt, 2001. "You can patent that? Are patents on computer programs and business methods good for the new economy?," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Q1, pages 5-15.
  15. Mowery,David C. & Nelson,Richard R. (ed.), 1999. "Sources of Industrial Leadership," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521642545.
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