The Effects of Patent Regime Changes: A Case Study of the European Patent Office
Patent system in Europe has undergone significant changes during the 1970s around the establishment of the European Patent Office (EPO), and this paper tries to quantify the influence of such policy changes on the private value of European patents. Based on the patent renewal records, I estimate the private value of patents in Germany, France and the U.K. obtained through the EPO patenting route during the early 1980s, and compare the estimated value with the patent value in the same three countries before the establishment of the EPO, as estimated by Pakes (1986). The average quality and the private value of the EPO patents are substantially higher than those obtained through the national route. The uniform examination and granting procedure at the EPO has effectively eliminated the inter-country differences in the patentability standards and the scope of patents, and has significantly decreased the differences in patent value across these countries. I also find that the extension of the statutory limit to the maximal length of patent lives and changes in the renewal fee schedule have only had modest effects on patent value, and that the learning process of the EPO patents are much longer than that of the national patents.
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