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The Value of U.S. Patents by Owner and Patent Characteristics


  • James Bessen

    () (Research on Innovation, Boston University School of Law)


This paper uses renewal data to estimate the value of U.S. patents, controlling for patent and owner characteristics. Estimates of U.S. patent value are substantially larger than estimates for European patents, however, the ratio of U.S. patent value to R&D for firms is only about 3%. Patents issued to small patentees are much less valuable than those issued to large corporations, perhaps reflecting imperfect markets for technology. Litigated patents are more valuable, as are highly cited patents. However, patent citations explain little variance in value, suggesting limits to their use as a measure of patent quality.

Suggested Citation

  • James Bessen, 2006. "The Value of U.S. Patents by Owner and Patent Characteristics," Working Papers 0603, Research on Innovation.
  • Handle: RePEc:roi:wpaper:0603

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    1. Marc Baudry & Béatrice Dumont, 2006. "Patent Renewals as Options: Improving the Mechanism for Weeding Out Lousy Patents," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 28(1), pages 41-62, February.
    2. Arora, Ashish & Ceccagnoli, Marco & Cohen, Wesley M., 2008. "R&D and the patent premium," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 1153-1179, September.
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    4. Marco, Alan C., 2005. "The option value of patent litigation: Theory and evidence," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3-4), pages 323-351.
    5. James Bessen & Michael J. Meurer, 2007. "The Private Costs of Patent Litigation," Working Papers 0701, Research on Innovation.
    6. Hall, B. & Jaffe, A. & Trajtenberg, M., 2001. "The NBER Patent Citations Data File: Lessons, Insights and Methodological Tools," Papers 2001-29, Tel Aviv.
    7. James Bessen & Robert M. Hunt, 2007. "An Empirical Look at Software Patents," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(1), pages 157-189, March.
    8. 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 405-432, December.
    9. Pakes, Ariel S, 1986. "Patents as Options: Some Estimates of the Value of Holding European Patent Stocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 755-784, July.
    10. Yi Deng, 2003. "A Dynamic Stochastic Analysis of International Patent Application and Renewal Processes," Computing in Economics and Finance 2003 189, Society for Computational Economics.
    11. Bessen, James, 2008. "The value of U.S. patents by owner and patent characteristics," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 932-945, June.
    12. Kortum, Samuel & Lerner, Josh, 1999. "What is behind the recent surge in patenting?1," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-22, January.
    13. Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson & Adam Jaffe, 1997. "University Versus Corporate Patents: A Window On The Basicness Of Invention," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 19-50.
    14. Dietmar Harhoff & Francis Narin & F. M. Scherer & Katrin Vopel, 1999. "Citation Frequency And The Value Of Patented Inventions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 511-515, August.
    15. Harhoff, Dietmar & Scherer, Frederic M. & Vopel, Katrin, 2003. "Citations, family size, opposition and the value of patent rights," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1343-1363, September.
    16. Jean Olson Lanjouw, 1998. "Patent Protection in the Shadow of Infringement: Simulation Estimations of Patent Value," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(4), pages 671-710.
    17. James Bessen, 2006. "Estimates of Firms' Patent Rents from Firm Market Value," Working Papers 0602, Research on Innovation.
    18. Lanjouw, Jean O & Schankerman, Mark, 2004. "Protecting Intellectual Property Rights: Are Small Firms Handicapped?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(1), pages 45-74, April.
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    21. James Bessen & Michael J. Meurer, 2005. "The Patent Litigation Explosion," Working Papers 0501, Research on Innovation.
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