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Technology entry in the presence of patent thickets


  • Bronwyn H. Hall

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of California, Berkeley)

  • Christian Helmers

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Santa Clara University)

  • Georg von Graevenitz

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Queen Mary University of London)


We analyze the effect of patent thickets on entry into technology areas by firms in the UK. We present a model that describes incentives to enter technology areas characterized by varying technological opportunity, complexity of technology, and the potential for hold-up in patent thickets. We show empirically that our measure of patent thickets is associated with a reduction of first time patenting in a given technology area controlling for the level of technological complexity and opportunity. Technological areas characterized by more technological complexity and opportunity, in contrast, see more entry. Our evidence indicates that patent thickets raise entry costs, which leads to less entry into technologies regardless of a firm’s size.

Suggested Citation

  • Bronwyn H. Hall & Christian Helmers & Georg von Graevenitz, 2016. "Technology entry in the presence of patent thickets," IFS Working Papers W16/02, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:16/02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Georg Graevenitz & Stefan Wagner & Dietmar Harhoff, 2013. "Incidence and Growth of Patent Thickets: The Impact of Technological Opportunities and Complexity," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 521-563, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. NAGAOKA Sadao & NISHIMURA Yoichiro, 2014. "Complementarity, Fragmentation, and the Effects of Patent Thickets," Discussion papers 14001, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    2. Dietl, M & Skrok, ? & Benalcazar, P & G?tkowski, M & Rockett, K, 2017. "Pendency and Thickets," Economics Discussion Papers 19979, University of Essex, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    IPR; patents; entry; technological opportunity; technological complexity; hold-up;

    JEL classification:

    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law

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