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Patents, Thickets, and the Financing of Early-Stage Firms: Evidence from the Software Industry

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  • Iain M. Cockburn
  • Megan MacGarvie

Abstract

The impact of stronger intellectual property rights in the software industry is controversial. One means by which patents can affect technical change, industry dynamics, and ultimately welfare, is through their role in stimulating or stifling entry by new ventures. Patents can block entry, or raise entrants' costs in variety of ways, while at the same time they may stimulate entry by improving the bargaining position of entrants vis-à-vis incumbents, and supporting a "market for technology" which enables new ventures to license their way into the market, or realize value through trade in their intangible assets. One important impact of patents may be their influence on capital markets, and here we find evidence that the extraordinary growth in patenting of software during the 1990s is associated with significant effects on the financing of software companies. Start-up software companies operating in markets characterized by denser patent thickets see their initial acquisition of VC funding delayed relative to firms in markets less affected by patents. The relationship between patents and the probability of IPO or acquisition is more complex, but there is some evidence that firms without patents are less likely to go public if they operate in a market characterized by patent thickets.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13644.

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Date of creation: Nov 2007
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Publication status: published as Iain M. Cockburn & Megan J. MacGarvie, 2009. "Patents, Thickets and the Financing of Early-Stage Firms: Evidence from the Software Industry," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 18(3), pages 729-773, 09.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13644

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  1. Bronwyn H. Hall, 2004. "Exploring the Patent Explosion," NBER Working Papers 10605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Carl Shapiro, 2004. "Navigating the Patent Thicket: Cross Licenses, Patent Pools and Standard Setting," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000000539, David K. Levine.
  3. Wagner, S. & Cockburn, I., 2010. "Patents and the survival of Internet-related IPOs," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 214-228, March.
  4. Iain M. Cockburn & Megan J. MacGarvie, 2006. "Entry and Patenting in the Software Industry," NBER Working Papers 12563, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Ashish Arora & Andrea Fosfuri & Alfonso Gambardella, 2004. "Markets for Technology: The Economics of Innovation and Corporate Strategy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262511819, December.
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  7. Gompers, Paul A, 1995. " Optimal Investment, Monitoring, and the Staging of Venture Capital," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1461-89, December.
  8. Sakakibara, Mariko & Branstetter, Lee, 2001. "Do Stronger Patents Induce More Innovation? Evidence from the 1988 Japanese Patent Law Reforms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 77-100, Spring.
  9. James Bessen & Eric Maskin, 2006. "Sequential Innovation, Patents, and Imitation," Economics Working Papers 0025, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  10. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
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