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Exploring the worldwide patent surge

  • Carsten Fink

    (World Intellectual Property Organization, Economics and Statistics Division, Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Mosahid Khan

    (World Intellectual Property Organization, Economics and Statistics Division, Geneva, Switzerland)

  • Hao Zhou

    (World Intellectual Property Organization, Economics and Statistics Division, Geneva, Switzerland)

Worldwide patent filings are at historically unprecedented levels. In 2011, the total number of patent applications for the first time exceeded two million -- double the approximately 1.05 million patents filed in 1995. Understanding what is behind this growth is important, as it may indicate faster technological progress, new innovation models and strategic shifts in how companies use the patent system. Policy-makers need to understand what drives the growth in patenting worldwide, not least to evaluate how the patent system can cope with the increasing flow of applications. A number of studies have looked at the growth in patent filings in individual countries, but have not focused on the world as a whole. This paper seeks to fill this gap by providing an analysis of global patenting trends using the most comprehensive data currently available. Among other things, it finds that subsequent patent filings -- additional filings of the same invention, mostly in additional countries -- contributed considerably to the growth in filings worldwide, pointing to globalization as one important driver of filing growth. However, no single factor can fully explain the marked increase in the use of the patent system.

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File URL: http://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/wipo_pub_econstat_wp_12.pdf
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Paper provided by World Intellectual Property Organization - Economics and Statistics Division in its series WIPO Economic Research Working Papers with number 12.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wip:wpaper:12
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  1. Bronwyn H. Hall, 2005. "Exploring the Patent Explosion," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 30(2_2), pages 35-48, 01.
  2. Jaffe, Adam B., 2000. "The U.S. patent system in transition: policy innovation and the innovation process," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4-5), pages 531-557, April.
  3. Kortum, Samuel & Lerner, Josh, 1999. "What is behind the recent surge in patenting?1," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-22, January.
  4. Graevenitz, Georg von & Wagner, Stefan & Harhoff, Dietmar, 2011. "Incidence and Growth of Patent Thickets - The Impact of Technological Opportunities and Complexity," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 356, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  5. Jinyoung Kim & Gerald Marschke, 2004. "Accounting for the recent surge in U.S. patenting: changes in R&D expenditures, patent yields, and the high tech sector," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(6), pages 543-558.
  6. Hu, Albert Guangzhou & Jefferson, Gary H., 2009. "A great wall of patents: What is behind China's recent patent explosion?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 57-68, September.
  7. Rosemarie Ham Ziedonis, 2004. "Don't Fence Me In: Fragmented Markets for Technology and the Patent Acquisition Strategies of Firms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(6), pages 804-820, June.
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