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Pioneers, Submariners, or Thicket-builders: Which Firms Use Continuations in Patenting?

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  • Deepak Hegde
  • David C. Mowery
  • Stuart Graham

Abstract

The continuations procedure within the U.S. patent system has been criticized for enabling firms to manipulate the patent review process for strategic purposes. Changes during the 1990s in patent procedures affected the incentives of applicants to exploit the continuations process, and additional reforms in continuations currently are being considered. Nonetheless, little is known about applicants' use of the three major types of continuations -- the Continuation Application (CAP), the Continuations-In-Part (CIP), and Divisions -- to alter the term and scope of patents. This paper analyzes patents issued from the three types of continuations to U.S. firms during 1981 - 2004 (with priority years 1981 - 2000), and links their frequency to the characteristics of patents, assignees and industries. We find that CIPs are disproportionately filed by R&D-intensive, small firms that patent heavily, and are more common in chemical and biological technologies. Patents resulting from CIP filings contain more claims and backward citations per patent on average, and cover relatively "valuable" inventions. In contrast, CAPs cover less valuable patents from large, capital-intensive firms that patent intensively, particularly in computer and semiconductor patents. We also analyze the effects of the 1995 change in patent term on continuation applications and find that the Act reduced the use of continuations overall, while shifting the output of CAPs toward "less important" patents.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13153.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13153

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  1. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00740716 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00848247 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Shapiro, Carl, 2007. "Patent Reform: Aligning Reward and Contribution," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt1qm754rc, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. repec:hal:cesptp:halshs-00740716 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2009. "From patent renewals to applications survival: do portfolio management strategies play a role in patent length?," Working Papers CEB 09-028.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  6. Bekkers, Rudi & Bongard, René & Nuvolari, Alessandro, 2011. "An empirical study on the determinants of essential patent claims in compatibility standards," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1001-1015, September.
  7. Rudi Bekkers & Arianna Martinelli, 2010. "The interplay between standardization and technological change: A study on wireless technologies, technological trajectories, and essential patent claims," Working Papers 10-08, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies, revised Sep 2010.
  8. Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2009. "Filing strategies and the increasing duration of patent applications," Working Papers CEB 09-005.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  9. David Encaoua & Thierry Madies, 2014. "Dysfunctions Of The Patent System And Their Effects On Competition," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00848247, HAL.

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