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Patents only live twice: a patent survival analysis in Europe

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  • Nicolas van Zeebroeck

Abstract

The length of patent rights is an issue of considerable importance in the design of patent systems, and its optimality has been intensively discussed in the literature. This dimension – taking the form of the number of years during which a given patent has been maintained – has been considered in the empirical literature as a direct indication of the private value of patents. But the lack of comprehensive data on both the renewal of patents and their characteristics has prevented so far any systematic analysis of the determinants of this duration. Relying on a comprehensive dataset including detailed information on all patent applications filed to the European Patent Office from 1980 to 2000 and on the renewal of those of them that were granted, this paper presents a survival time analysis of the determinants of patent length in Europe. The results are threefold: first, they clearly establish that patent rights have significantly increased in length over the past decades despite a small decline in the average grant rate, and due to the dilatation of the examination process and higher maintenance rates. Second, they show that some filing strategies induce considerable delays in the examination process, possibly to the benefits of the patentee, but most certainly to the expense of legal uncertainty on the markets and undue exploitation of the provisional protection granted to pending applications by the European Patent Convention. And third, they confirm that more valuable patents (more cited or covering a larger geographical scope) take more time to be processed and live longer, whereas more complex applications are associated with longer decision lags but also with lower grant and renewal rates. These results have many policy implications for technology markets, patent systems and all their stakeholders.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2007. "Patents only live twice: a patent survival analysis in Europe," Working Papers CEB 07-028.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:07-028
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    Cited by:

    1. Harhoff, Dietmar & Hoisl, Karin & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno, 2009. "Languages, Fees and the International Scope of Patenting," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 10456, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
    2. Palangkaraya, Alfons & Jensen, Paul H. & Webster, Elizabeth, 2008. "Applicant behaviour in patent examination request lags," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 243-245, December.
    3. Liegsalz, Johannes & Wagner, Stefan, 2013. "Patent examination at the State Intellectual Property Office in China," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 552-563.
    4. Gupeng, Zhang & Xiangdong, Chen, 2012. "The value of invention patents in China: Country origin and technology field differences," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 357-370.
    5. Liu, Li-jun & Cao, Cong & Song, Min, 2014. "China's agricultural patents: How has their value changed amid recent patent boom?," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 106-121.
    6. Malwina Mejer & Bruno Van Pottelsberghe, 2008. "The London Agreement and the Cost of Patenting in Europe," Working Papers ECARES 2008_032, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    7. Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, 2011. "The quality factor in patent systems," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(6), pages 1755-1793, December.
    8. Harhoff, Dietmar & Hoisl, Karin & Reichl, Bettina & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, Bruno, 2009. "Patent validation at the country level--The role of fees and translation costs," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 1423-1437, November.
    9. Gaetan de Rassenfosse & Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, 2012. "On the Price Elasticity of Demand for Patents," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 74(1), pages 58-77, February.
    10. Nicolas Van Zeebroeck, 2008. "Développement et impact des stratégies de dépôt de brevets," Reflets et perspectives de la vie économique, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(3), pages 87-100.
    11. Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2009. "Filing strategies and the increasing duration of patent applications," Working Papers CEB 09-005.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    12. Koenen, Johannes & Peitz, Martin, 2015. "Firm reputation and incentives to “milk” pending patents," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 18-29.
    13. Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2011. "Long Live Patents: the Increasing Life Expectancy of Patent Applications and its Determinants," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 2(3).
    14. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:3:p:583-591 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Patent length; Patent value; Renewals; Granting Process; Survival Time Analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General

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