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Can Post-Grant Reviews Improve Patent System Design? A Twin Study of US and European Patents

  • Graham, Stuart J.H.
  • Harhoff, Dietmar

This paper assesses the impact of adopting a post-grant review institution in the US patent system by comparing the “opposition careers†of European Patent Office (EPO) equivalents of litigated US patents to those of a control group of EPO patents. We demonstrate several novel methods of "twinning" US and European patents and investigate the implications of employing these different methods in our data analysis. We find that EPO equivalents of US litigated patent applications are more likely to be awarded EPO patent protection than are equivalents of unlitigated patents, and the opposition rate for EPO equivalents of US litigated patents is about three times higher than for equivalents of unlitigated patents. Patents attacked under European opposition are shown to be either revoked completely or narrowed in about 70 percent of all cases. For EPO equivalents of US litigated patents, the appeal rate against opposition outcomes is considerably higher than for control-group patents. Based on our estimates, we calculate a range of net welfare benefits that would accrue from adopting a post-grant review system. Our results provide strong evidence that the United States could benefit substantially from adopting an administrative post-grant patent review, provided that the post-grant mechanism is not too costly.

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Paper provided by Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich in its series Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems with number 38.

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Date of creation: Apr 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:38
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  1. Harhoff, Dietmar & Reitzig, Markus, 2004. "Determinants of opposition against EPO patent grants--the case of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 443-480, April.
  2. Stuart J. H. Graham & Bronwyn H. Hall & Dietmar Harhoff & David C. Mowery, 2003. "Post-Issue Patent "Quality Control": A Comparative Study of US Patent Re-examinations and European Patent Oppositions," Industrial Organization 0303009, EconWPA.
  3. Lanjouw, Jean O & Schankerman, Mark, 2001. "Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights," CEPR Discussion Papers 3093, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Hall, Bronwyn H & Jaffe, Adam B & Trajtenberg, Manuel, 2001. "The NBER Patent Citations Data File: Lessons, Insights and Methodological Tools," CEPR Discussion Papers 3094, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. 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.
  6. Bronwyn H. Hall & Stuart J. H. Graham & Dietmar Harhoff & David C. Mowery, 2004. "Prospects for Improving U.S. Patent Quality via Post-grant Opposition," Law and Economics 0401002, EconWPA.
  7. Lemley, Mark A. & Shapiro, Carl, 2004. "Probabilistic Patents," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt9xf1488p, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  8. 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.
  9. Jonathan Levin & Richard Levin, . "Patent Oppositions," Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy Working Paper Series yale_lepp-1005, Yale Law School John M. Olin Center for Studies in Law, Economics, and Public Policy.
  10. Paul H. Jensen & Alfons Palangkaraya & Elizabeth Webster, 2005. "Patent Application Outcomes across the Trilateral Patent Offices," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2005n05, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
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