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Sleeping patents: any reason to wake up?


  • Palomeras, Neus

    () (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)


Patents are typically characterized as very valuable assets for firms. Nevertheless, there are many patents in a firm's portfolio that are actually never used. In this paper, we claim that there is a relationship between a firm's decision to use or not to use a patent and the characteristics of the underlying invention. We characterize patent use according to the sleeping or non-sleeping character of the patents in the firm's portfolio. We characterize the underlying invention along different dimensions captured by the patent, i.e. importance, strategic fit, scope and innovativeness. We perform an empirical analysis on a set of patent-active firms in the chemicals industry that trade some of their patents through what is currently the only website specialized in firm technology transfer through the Internet, We use The NBER Patent Citations Data File to obtain information about the patents granted to these firms. Our results suggest that sleeping patents are more innovative, broader and no less important than their counterparts. We conclude that such patents are worth waking up, especially when the underlying invention is applicable to business areas far away from the patentholder's strategic core. These results suggest that there is potential for markets for technology to develop.

Suggested Citation

  • Palomeras, Neus, 2003. "Sleeping patents: any reason to wake up?," IESE Research Papers D/506, IESE Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0506

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Paola Giuri & Myriam Mariani & Stefano Brusoni & Gustavo Crespi & Dominique Francoz & Alfonso Gambardella & Walter Garcia-Fontes & Aldo Geuna & Raul Gonzales & Dietmar Harhoff & Karin Hoisl & Christia, 2005. "Everything you Always Wanted to Know about Inventors (but Never Asked): Evidence from the PatVal-EU Survey," LEM Papers Series 2005/20, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    2. Nicolas van Zeebroeck & Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, 2011. "Filing strategies and patent value," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(6), pages 539-561, February.
    3. Gambardella, Alfonso & Giuri, Paola & Luzzi, Alessandra, 2007. "The market for patents in Europe," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 1163-1183, October.
    4. Giuri, Paola & Mariani, Myriam & Brusoni, Stefano & Crespi, Gustavo & Francoz, Dominique & Gambardella, Alfonso & Garcia-Fontes, Walter & Geuna, Aldo & Gonzales, Raul & Harhoff, Dietmar & Hoisl, Karin, 2007. "Inventors and invention processes in Europe: Results from the PatVal-EU survey," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 1107-1127, October.
    5. Barberá-Tomás, David & Jiménez-Sáez, Fernando & Castelló-Molina, Itziar, 2011. "Mapping the importance of the real world: The validity of connectivity analysis of patent citations networks," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 473-486, April.
    6. Chi Leung & Yue Kwok, 2011. "Real options game analysis of sleeping patents," Decisions in Economics and Finance, Springer;Associazione per la Matematica, vol. 34(1), pages 41-65, May.

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