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The Importance (or not) of Patents to UK Firms

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  • Bronwyn H. Hall
  • Christian Helmers
  • Mark Rogers
  • Vania Sena

Abstract

A surprisingly small number of innovative firms use the patent system. In the UK, the share of firms patenting among those reporting that they have innovated is about 4%. Survey data from the same firms support the idea that they do not consider patents or other forms of registered IP as important as informal IP for protecting inventions. We show that there are a number of explanations for these findings: most firms are SMEs, many innovations are new to the firm, but not to the market, and many sectors are not patent active. We find evidence pointing to a positive association between patenting and innovative performance measured as turnover due to innovation, but not between patenting and subsequent employment growth. The analysis relies on a new integrated dataset for the UK that combines a range of data sources into a panel at the enterprise level.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19089.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Publication status: published as Bronwyn H. Hall & Christian Helmers & Mark Rogers & Vania Sena, 2013. "The importance (or not) of patents to UK firms," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(3), pages 603-629, July.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19089

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References

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  1. Hussinger, Katrin, 2004. "Is Silence Golden? Patents versus Secrecy at the Firm Level," ZEW Discussion Papers 04-78, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  2. James J. Anton & Dennis A. Yao, 2004. "Little Patents and Big Secrets: Managing Intellectual Property," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(1), pages 1-22, Spring.
  3. Natarajan Balasubramanian & Jagadeesh Sivadasan, 2008. "What Happens When Firms Patent? New Evidence from U.S. Economic Census Data," Working Papers 08-03, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. F. M. Scherer, 1965. "Corporate Inventive Output, Profits, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 290.
  5. Arundel, Anthony, 2001. "The relative effectiveness of patents and secrecy for appropriation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 611-624, April.
  6. Brouwer, Erik & Kleinknecht, Alfred, 1999. "Innovative output, and a firm's propensity to patent.: An exploration of CIS micro data," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 615-624, August.
  7. Diana Heger & Alexandra K. Zaby, 2013. "The heterogeneous costs of disclosure and the propensity to patent," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(3), pages 630-652, July.
  8. John Bound & Clint Cummins & Zvi Griliches & Bronwyn H. Hall & Adam B. Jaffe, 1982. "Who Does R&D and Who Patents?," NBER Working Papers 0908, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • John Bound & Clint Cummins & Zvi Griliches & Bronwyn H. Hall & Adam B. Jaffe, 1984. "Who Does R&D and Who Patents?," NBER Chapters, in: R & D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 21-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Edwin Mansfield, 1986. "Patents and Innovation: An Empirical Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(2), pages 173-181, February.
  11. Bronwyn H. Hall & Christian Helmers & Mark Rogers & Vania Sena, 2012. "The Choice between Formal and Informal Intellectual Property: A Literature Review," NBER Working Papers 17983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Stefano Comino & Clara Graziano, 2014. "How Many Patents Does it Take to Signal Innovation Quality?," CESifo Working Paper Series 4840, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Neil Lee, 2013. "Cultural Diversity, Cities and Innovation: firm Effects or City Effects?," SERC Discussion Papers 0144, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.

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