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Patent Paradox Revisited: Determinants of Patenting in the U.S. Semiconductor Industry, 1980-94


  • Hall, Bronwyn H.
  • Ham Ziedonis, Rosemarie


This paper examines the patenting behavior of firms in an industry characterized by rapid technological change and cumulative innovation. Recent evidence suggests that semiconductor firms do not rely heavily on patents, despite the strengthening of US patent rights in the early 1980s. Yet the propensity of semiconductor firms to patent has risen dramatically over the past decade. This paper explores this apparent paradox by analyzing the patenting activities of almost 100 US semiconductor firms during 1980-94. The results suggest that stronger patents may have facilitated entry by firms in niche product markets, while spawning "patent portfolio races" among capital-intensive firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Hall, Bronwyn H. & Ham Ziedonis, Rosemarie, 1999. "Patent Paradox Revisited: Determinants of Patenting in the U.S. Semiconductor Industry, 1980-94," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt1rg1088v, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:compol:qt1rg1088v

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kortum, Samuel & Lerner, Josh, 1998. "Stronger protection or technological revolution: what is behind the recent surge in patenting?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 247-304, June.
    2. Gourieroux, Christian & Monfort, Alain & Trognon, Alain, 1984. "Pseudo Maximum Likelihood Methods: Applications to Poisson Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 701-720, May.
    3. Jean Olson Lanjouw, 1994. "Economic Consequences of a Changing Litigation Environment: The Case of Patents," NBER Working Papers 4835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 287-343 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Blundell, Richard & Griffith, Rachel & Windmeijer, Frank, 2002. "Individual effects and dynamics in count data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 113-131, May.
    6. Suzanne Scotchmer & Jerry Green, 1990. "Novelty and Disclosure in Patent Law," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 131-146, Spring.
    7. repec:fth:harver:1473 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1996. "Protecting Early Innovators: Should Second-Generation Products Be Patentable?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(2), pages 322-331, Summer.
    9. Hausman, Jerry & Hall, Bronwyn H & Griliches, Zvi, 1984. "Econometric Models for Count Data with an Application to the Patents-R&D Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 909-938, July.
    10. 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.
    11. Jean O. Lanjouw & Josh Lerner, 1996. "Preliminary Injunctive Relief: Theory and Evidence from Patent Litigation," NBER Working Papers 5689, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Jean O. Lanjouw & Mark Schankerman, 1997. "Stylized Facts of Patent Litigation: Value, Scope and Ownership," NBER Working Papers 6297, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1987. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial Research and Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3, Specia), pages 783-832.
    14. Ashish Arora, 1995. "Licensing Tacit Knowledge: Intellectual Property Rights And The Market For Know-How," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 41-60.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carl Shapiro, 2001. "Navigating the Patent Thicket: Cross Licenses, Patent Pools, and Standard Setting," NBER Chapters,in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 1, pages 119-150 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Macdonald, Stuart, 2004. "When means become ends: considering the impact of patent strategy on innovation," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 135-158, March.
    3. Hirukawa, Masayuki & Ueda, Masako, 2008. "Venture Capital and Innovation: Which is First?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7090, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.


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