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Who Licenses out Patents and Why?: Lessons from a Business Survey

Listed author(s):
  • Maria Pluvia Zuniga
  • Dominique Guellec


The increasing importance of licensing for innovation is supported by ample anecdotal evidence. However, statistics on this topic are scarce. The OECD, together with the European Patent Office and the University of Tokyo, carried out a business survey on the licensing-out of patents. The goal was to investigate the intensity of licensing to affiliated and non-affiliated companies, its evolution, the characteristics, motivations and obstacles met by companies doing or willing to license. The target population was patent holders: 600 European firms and 1 600 Japanese firms responded to the survey, in the second half of 2007. The results show that patent licensing is widespread among patenting firms: around one company in five in Europe licenses patents to non-affiliated partners, whereas more than one in four does so in Japan. The relationship between size of the firm and probability to license out is U-shaped: small firms and large firms are more likely to license out their patented inventions. In Europe, SMEs have more difficulties to license out their patents than large firms. The major barrier to licensing out patent markets is informational (identifying partners). Finally, we also find that more than one third of young European firms (born after 2000) deem patents as quite or very important to convince private investors and venture capitalists to provide them with funds. Qui licencie des brevets et pourquoi? : Enseignements d'une enquête L’importance accrue des licences de brevets pour l’innovation est attestée par nombre d’anecdotes. Cependant, les statistiques sur ce domaine sont rares. L’OCDE, en partenariat avec l’Office européen des brevets et l’Université de Tokyo, a conduit une enquête sur les licences de brevets. L’objectif était de mesurer l’intensité de l’activité de licence avec les entreprises affiliées et non-affiliées (indépendantes), son évolution, ses caractéristiques, ses motivations et les obstacles rencontrés par les entreprises qui souhaitent licencier. La population couverte comprend les titulaires de brevet: 600 entreprises européennes et 1 600 entreprises japonaises ont répondu à l’enquête, conduite dans la seconde moitié de 2007. Les réponses montrent que les licences de brevets sont très courantes parmi les entreprises titulaires de brevets: environ une entreprise sur cinq en Europe, et plus d’une sur quatre au Japon, licencient des brevets à des partenaires indépendants. La relation entre taille de l’entreprise et probabilité de licencier est en forme de U: les petites entreprises et les grandes ont une plus grande propension à licencier leurs brevets. En Europe, les petites et moyennes entreprises rencontrent plus d’obstacles que les grandes lorsqu’elles souhaitent licencier. Le principal obstacle à la licence est d’ordre informationnel: identifier des partenaires. Finalement, on trouve aussi qu’un tiers des entreprises européennes nées après 2000 estiment que les brevets sont plutôt ou très importants pour convaincre les investisseurs et capital risqueurs de leur fournir des fonds.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers with number 2009/5.

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Date of creation: 31 Mar 2009
Handle: RePEc:oec:stiaaa:2009/5-en
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