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Patents only live twice: a patent survival analysis in Europe

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  • Nicolas van Zeebroeck

Abstract

The length of patent rights is an issue of considerable importance in the design of patent systems, and its optimality has been intensively discussed in the literature. This dimension – taking the form of the number of years during which a given patent has been maintained – has been considered in the empirical literature as a direct indication of the private value of patents. But the lack of comprehensive data on both the renewal of patents and their characteristics has prevented so far any systematic analysis of the determinants of this duration. Relying on a comprehensive dataset including detailed information on all patent applications filed to the European Patent Office from 1980 to 2000 and on the renewal of those of them that were granted, this paper presents a survival time analysis of the determinants of patent length in Europe. The results are threefold: first, they clearly establish that patent rights have significantly increased in length over the past decades despite a small decline in the average grant rate, and due to the dilatation of the examination process and higher maintenance rates. Second, they show that some filing strategies induce considerable delays in the examination process, possibly to the benefits of the patentee, but most certainly to the expense of legal uncertainty on the markets and undue exploitation of the provisional protection granted to pending applications by the European Patent Convention. And third, they confirm that more valuable patents (more cited or covering a larger geographical scope) take more time to be processed and live longer, whereas more complex applications are associated with longer decision lags but also with lower grant and renewal rates. These results have many policy implications for technology markets, patent systems and all their stakeholders.

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Paper provided by ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles in its series Working Papers CEB with number 07-028.RS.

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Length: 77 p.
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
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Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:07-028

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Keywords: Patent length; Patent value; Renewals; Granting Process; Survival Time Analysis;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Malwina Mejer & Bruno Van Pottelsberghe, 2008. "The London Agreement and the Cost of Patenting in Europe," Working Papers ECARES 2008_032, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Johannes Koenen & Martin Peitz, 2013. "Firm Reputation and Incentives to "Milk" Pending Patents," CESifo Working Paper Series 4355, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Gaétan de Rassenfosse & Bruno Van Pottelsberghe, 2008. "On the Price Elasticity of Demand for Patents," Working Papers ECARES 2008_031, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  4. van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno, 2010. "The quality factor in patent systems," CEPR Discussion Papers 7921, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Harhoff, Dietmar & Hoisl, Karin & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno, 2009. "Languages, Fees and the International Scope of Patenting," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 10456, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
  6. Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2011. "Long Live Patents: the Increasing Life Expectancy of Patent Applications and its Determinants," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 2(3).
  7. Liegsalz, Johannes & Wagner, Stefan, 2013. "Patent examination at the State Intellectual Property Office in China," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 552-563.
  8. Palangkaraya, Alfons & Jensen, Paul H. & Webster, Elizabeth, 2008. "Applicant behaviour in patent examination request lags," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 243-245, December.
  9. Gupeng, Zhang & Xiangdong, Chen, 2012. "The value of invention patents in China: Country origin and technology field differences," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 357-370.
  10. Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2009. "Filing strategies and the increasing duration of patent applications," Working Papers CEB 09-005.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  11. Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2008. "Développement et impact des stratégies de dépôt de brevets," Working Papers CEB 08-041, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

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