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The Importance (or not) of Patents to UK Firms

Author

Listed:
  • Bronwyn H. Hall
  • Christian Helmers
  • Mark Rogers
  • Vania Sena

Abstract

A surprisingly small number of innovative firms use the patent system. In the UK, the share of firms patenting among those reporting that they have innovated is about 4%. Survey data from the same firms support the idea that they do not consider patents or other forms of registered IP as important as informal IP for protecting inventions. We show that there are a number of explanations for these findings: most firms are SMEs, many innovations are new to the firm, but not to the market, and many sectors are not patent active. We find evidence pointing to a positive association between patenting and innovative performance measured as turnover due to innovation, but not between patenting and subsequent employment growth. The analysis relies on a new integrated dataset for the UK that combines a range of data sources into a panel at the enterprise level.

Suggested Citation

  • Bronwyn H. Hall & Christian Helmers & Mark Rogers & Vania Sena, 2013. "The Importance (or not) of Patents to UK Firms," NBER Working Papers 19089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19089
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mairesse, Jacques & Mohnen, Pierre, 2010. "Using Innovation Surveys for Econometric Analysis," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    2. repec:kap:ejlwec:v:44:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10657-016-9529-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Brouwer, Erik & Kleinknecht, Alfred, 1999. "Innovative output, and a firm's propensity to patent.: An exploration of CIS micro data," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 615-624, August.
    4. Arundel, Anthony, 2001. "The relative effectiveness of patents and secrecy for appropriation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 611-624, April.
    5. Edwin Mansfield, 1986. "Patents and Innovation: An Empirical Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(2), pages 173-181, February.
    6. Natarajan Balasubramanian & Jagadeesh Sivadasan, 2011. "What Happens When Firms Patent? New Evidence from U.S. Economic Census Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 126-146, February.
    7. John Bound & Clint Cummins & Zvi Griliches & Bronwyn H. Hall & Adam B. Jaffe, 1984. "Who Does R&D and Who Patents?," NBER Chapters,in: R&D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 21-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. James J. Anton & Dennis A. Yao, 2004. "Little Patents and Big Secrets: Managing Intellectual Property," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(1), pages 1-22, Spring.
    9. Katrin Cremers & Max Ernicke & Fabian Gaessler & Dietmar Harhoff & Christian Helmers & Luke McDonagh & Paula Schliessler & Nicolas Zeebroeck, 2017. "Patent litigation in Europe," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 1-44, August.
      • Cremers, Katrin & Ernicke, Max & Gaessler, Fabian & Harhoff, Dietmar & Helmers, Christian & McDonagh, Luke & Schliessler, Paula & Van Zeebroeck, Nicolas, 2013. "Patent litigation in Europe," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-072, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
      • Katrin Cremers & Max Ernicke & Fabian Gaessler & Dietmar Harhoff & Christian Helmers & Luke Mc Donagh & Paula Schliessler & Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2017. "Patent litigation in Europe," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/226239, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    10. Sakakibara, Mariko & Branstetter, Lee, 2001. "Do Stronger Patents Induce More Innovation? Evidence from the 1988 Japanese Patent Law Reforms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 77-100, Spring.
    11. Katrin Hussinger, 2006. "Is Silence Golden? Patents Versus Secrecy At The Firm Level," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(8), pages 735-752.
    12. F. M. Scherer, 1965. "Corporate Inventive Output, Profits, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 290-290.
    13. 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.
    14. Diana Heger & Alexandra K. Zaby, 2013. "The heterogeneous costs of disclosure and the propensity to patent," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(3), pages 630-652, July.
    15. Bronwyn H. Hall & Christian Helmers & Mark Rogers & Vania Sena, 2012. "The Choice between Formal and Informal Intellectual Property: A Literature Review," NBER Working Papers 17983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Antoine Dechezleprêtre & Elias Einiö & Ralf Martin & Kieu-Trang Nguyen & John Van Reenen, 2016. "Do Tax Incentives for Research Increase Firm Innovation? An RD Design for R&D," CEP Discussion Papers dp1413, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. Crass, Dirk & Garcia Valero, Francisco & Pitton, Francesco & Rammer, Christian, 2016. "Protecting innovation through patents and trade secrets: Determinants and performance impacts for firms with a single innovation," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-061, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Franzoni, Luigi Alberto & Kaushik, Arun Kumar, 2016. "The optimal scope of trade secrets law," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 45-53.
    4. Comino, Stefano & Graziano, Clara, 2015. "How many patents does it take to signal innovation quality?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 66-79.
    5. Lee, Neil & Sameen, Hiba & Cowling, Marc, 2015. "Access to finance for innovative SMEs since the financial crisis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 370-380.
    6. Neil Lee, 2013. "Cultural Diversity, Cities and Innovation: firm Effects or City Effects?," SERC Discussion Papers 0144, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    7. repec:kap:sbusec:v:50:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11187-017-9898-y is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Bronwyn H. Hall, 2018. "Is There a Role for Patents in the Financing of Innovative Firms?," NBER Working Papers 24370, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Tomasz Kijek, 2016. "Intellectual Property Rights And Appropriability Of Innovation Capital: Evidence From Polish Manufacturing Firms," Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, Institute of Economic Research, vol. 11(2), pages 387-399, June.
    10. Buss, Philipp & Peukert, Christian, 2015. "R&D outsourcing and intellectual property infringement," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(4), pages 977-989.
    11. Carsten Fink & Bronwyn H. Hall & Christian Helmers, 2018. "Intellectual Property Use in Middle Income Countries: The Case of Chile," NBER Working Papers 24348, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • 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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