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The market value of patents and R&D: Evidence from European firms


  • Bronwyn H. Hall
  • Grid Thoma
  • Salvatore Torrisi


This paper provides novel empirical evidence on the private value of patents and R&D in European firms during the period 1991-2004. We explore the relationship between firm's stock market value, patents, and "quality"-weighted patents issued by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). We find that Tobin's q is positively and significantly associated with R&D and patent stocks, but that only those patents taken out in both patent offices or at the USPTO alone seem to be valued. Either forward citations or a composite quality indicator based on forward citations, family size and the number of technical fields covered by the patent are modestly informative for value. Software patents account for a rising share of total patents in the USPTO and EPO. Moreover, some scholars of innovation and intellectual property rights argue that software and business methods patents on average are of poor quality and that these patents are applied for merely to build portfolios rather than for protection of real inventions. We found that such patents are considerably more valuable than ordinary patents, especially if they are taken out in the U.S. However their quality indicators are no more valuable than those of other patents, suggesting that their primary purpose may be to increase the size of the patent portfolio.

Suggested Citation

  • Bronwyn H. Hall & Grid Thoma & Salvatore Torrisi, 2007. "The market value of patents and R&D: Evidence from European firms," NBER Working Papers 13426, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13426
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-1054, July.
    2. Hall, B.H., 1999. "Innovation and Market Value," Economics Papers 1999-w3, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
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    4. Levine, Ross & Zervos, Sara, 1998. "Stock Markets, Banks, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 537-558, June.
    5. Bronwyn H. Hall & Adam Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 2005. "Market Value and Patent Citations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(1), pages 16-38, Spring.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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