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Protecting Intellectual Property Rights: Are Small Firms Handicapped?

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  • Lanjouw, Jean O
  • Schankerman, Mark

Abstract

This paper studies the determinants of patent suits and settlements during 1978-99 by linking information from the U.S. patent office, the federal courts, and industry sources. We find that litigation risk is much higher for patents that are owned by individuals and firms with small patent portfolios. Patentees with a large portfolio of patents to trade, or other characteristics that facilitate "cooperative" resolution of disputes, are much less likely to prosecute infringement suits. However, postsuit outcomes do not depend on these characteristics. These findings show that small patentees are at a significant disadvantage in protecting their patent rights because their greater litigation risk is not offset by more rapid resolution of their suits. Our empirical estimates of the heterogeneity in litigation risk can help in developing private patent litigation insurance to mitigate the adverse affects of high enforcement costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Lanjouw, Jean O & Schankerman, Mark, 2004. "Protecting Intellectual Property Rights: Are Small Firms Handicapped?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(1), pages 45-74, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:y:2004:v:47:i:1:p:45-74
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/380476
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    1. Adam Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1999. "International Knowledge Flows: Evidence From Patent Citations," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(1-2), pages 105-136.
    2. Joshua Lerner, 1994. "The Importance of Patent Scope: An Empirical Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 319-333, Summer.
    3. Lanjouw, Jean O & Lerner, Josh, 2001. "Tilting the Table? The Use of Preliminary Injunctions," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 573-603, October.
    4. Waldfogel, Joel, 1998. "Reconciling Asymmetric Information and Divergent Expectations Theories of Litigation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 451-476, October.
    5. Cooter, Robert D & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1989. "Economic Analysis of Legal Disputes and Their Resolution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1067-1097, September.
    6. Lerner, Josh, 1995. "Patenting in the Shadow of Competitors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 463-495, October.
    7. George L. Priest & Benjamin Klein, 1984. "The Selection of Disputes for Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 1-56, January.
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