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Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights

  • Jean Olson Lanjouw
  • Mark Schankerman

We study the determinants of patent suits and their outcomes over the period 1978-1999 by linking detailed information from the U.S. patent office, the federal court system, and industry sources. The probability of being involved in a suit is very heterogeneous, being much higher for valuable patents and for patents owned by individuals and smaller firms. Thus the patent system generates incentives, net of expected enforcement costs, that differ across inventors. Patentees with a large portfolio of patents to trade, or having other characteristics that encourage 'cooperative' interaction with disputants, more successfully avoid court actions. At the same time, key post-suit outcomes do not depend on observed characteristics. This is good news: advantages in settlement are exercised quickly, before extensive legal proceedings consume both court and firm resources. But it is bad news in that the more frequent involvement of smaller patentees in court actions is not offset by a more rapid resolution of their suits. However, our estimates of the heterogeneity in litigation risk can facilitate development of private patent litigation insurance to mitigate this adverse affect of high enforcement costs.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8656.

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Date of creation: Dec 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8656
Note: PR
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  1. Lucian Arye Bebchuk, 1984. "Litigation and Settlement under Imperfect Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(3), pages 404-415, Autumn.
  2. George L. Priest & Benjamin Klein, 1984. "The Selection of Disputes for Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 1-56, January.
  3. Graham, Stuart J. H. & Hall, Bronwyn H. & Harhoff, Dietmar & Mowery, David C., 2002. "Post-Issue Patent "Quality Control": A Comparative Study of US Patent Re-Examinations and European Patent Oppositions," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt2qt097bd, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Mark Schankerman, 1998. "How Valuable is Patent Protection? Estimates by Technology Field," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(1), pages 77-107, Spring.
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  6. Joshua Lerner, 1994. "The Importance of Patent Scope: An Empirical Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 319-333, Summer.
  7. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1991. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 29-41, Winter.
  8. Spier, Kathryn E, 1992. "The Dynamics of Pretrial Negotiation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(1), pages 93-108, January.
  9. Waldfogel, Joel, 1998. "Reconciling Asymmetric Information and Divergent Expectations Theories of Litigation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 451-76, October.
  10. I.P.L. P'ng, 1983. "Strategic Behavior in Suit, Settlement, and Trial," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 14(2), pages 539-550, Autumn.
  11. Graham, Stuart J.H. & Hall, Bronwyn H. & Harhoff, Dietmar & Mowery, David C., 2002. "Post-Issue Patent “Quality Control:†A Comparative Study of US Patent Re-examinations and European Patent Oppositions," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt7931q79x, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  12. Hall, Bronwyn H & Ziedonis, Rosemarie Ham, 2001. "The Patent Paradox Revisited: An Empirical Study of Patenting in the U.S. Semiconductor Industry, 1979-1995," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 101-28, Spring.
  13. Lerner, Josh, 1995. "Patenting in the Shadow of Competitors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 463-95, October.
  14. Lanjouw, Jean O & Pakes, Ariel & Putnam, Jonathan, 1998. "How to Count Patents and Value Intellectual Property: The Uses of Patent Renewal and Application Data," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 405-32, December.
  15. Cooter, Robert D & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1989. "Economic Analysis of Legal Disputes and Their Resolution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1067-97, September.
  16. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1990. "Multimarket Contact and Collusive Behavior," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 1-26, Spring.
  17. Lanjouw, Jean O & Schankerman, Mark, 2001. "Characteristics of Patent Litigation: A Window on Competition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 129-51, Spring.
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