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Secondary pharmaceutical patenting: A global perspective


  • Sampat, Bhaven N.
  • Shadlen, Kenneth C.


Pharmaceutical firms’ use of secondary patents to extend periods of exclusivity generates concerns among policymakers worldwide. In response, some developing countries have introduced measures to curb the grant of these patents. While these measures have received considerable attention, there is limited evidence on their effectiveness. We follow a large sample of international patent applications in the US, Japan, the European Patent Office, and corresponding filings in three developing countries with restrictions on secondary patents, India, Brazil, and Argentina. We compare primary vs. secondary grant rates across countries, consider the differential fates of “twin” applications filed in multiple countries, and undertake detailed analyses of patent prosecution in the three developing countries. Our analyses indicate that measures to restrict secondary patents in developing countries are having limited impact. In none of these three countries are specific policies toward secondary patents the principal determinant of grant rates. Our analyses also suggest the importance of other procedural aspects of patent systems, beyond the formal policies targeting secondary applications, that affect outcomes for these applications in developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Sampat, Bhaven N. & Shadlen, Kenneth C., 2017. "Secondary pharmaceutical patenting: A global perspective," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 693-707.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:46:y:2017:i:3:p:693-707 DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2017.01.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lanjouw, Jean O & Pakes, Ariel & Putnam, Jonathan, 1998. "How to Count Patents and Value Intellectual Property: The Uses of Patent Renewal and Application Data," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 405-432, December.
    2. Mark A. Lemley & Bhaven Sampat, 2012. "Examiner Characteristics and Patent Office Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 817-827, August.
    3. Sampat, Bhaven N. & Shadlen, Kenneth C., 2015. "Drug patenting in India: looking back andlooking forward," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 62652, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Sternitzke, Christian, 2010. "Knowledge sources, patent protection, and commercialization of pharmaceutical innovations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 810-821, July.
    5. María José Abud Sittler & Bronwyn Hall & Christian Helmers, 2015. "An Empirical Analysis of Primary and Secondary Pharmaceutical Patents in Chile," NBER Working Papers 20995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Yamauchi, Isamu & Nagaoka, Sadao, 2015. "An economic analysis of deferred examination system: Evidence from a policy reform in Japan," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 19-28.
    7. Gaétan de Rassenfosse & Adam B. Jaffe & Elizabeth Webster, 2016. "Low-quality Patents in the Eye of the Beholder: Evidence from Multiple Examiners," NBER Working Papers 22244, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Kenneth C. Shadlen, 2011. "The Political Contradictions of Incremental Innovation: Lessons from Pharmaceutical Patent Examination in Brazil," Politics & Society, , vol. 39(2), pages 143-174, June.
    9. Elizabeth Webster & Paul H. Jensen & Alfons Palangkaraya, 2014. "Patent examination outcomes and the national treatment principle," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 45(2), pages 449-469, June.
    10. Carlos Correa, 2007. "Guidelines for the Examination of Pharmaceutical Patents: Developing a Public Health Perspective," Working Papers id:1203, eSocialSciences.
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