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Why challenge the ivory tower? New evidence on the basicness of academic patents


  • Czarnitzki, Dirk
  • Hussinger, Katrin
  • Schneider, Cédric


While often presumed in academic literature and policy discussions there is little empirical evidence showing that academic patents protect more basic inventions than corporate patents. This study provides new evidence on the basicness of academic patents using German professor patents linked to patent opposition data from the European Patent Office (EPO). Patent oppositions are the most important mechanism by which the validity of patents filed at the EPO can be challenged. Controlling for patent value, asymmetric information and diverging expectations between the opposition parties, the likelihood of a potentially litigious situation and the relative costs of opposition versus settlement, we find that academic patents are opposed less frequently than a control group of corporate patents. This suggests that academic patents cover rather basic inventions with a low immediate commercial value not threatening current returns of potential plaintiffs. The effect is weaker for academic patents in collaboration with the business sector, which suggests that those patents are evaluated as more applied by owners of potentially rival technologies.

Suggested Citation

  • Czarnitzki, Dirk & Hussinger, Katrin & Schneider, Cédric, 2009. "Why challenge the ivory tower? New evidence on the basicness of academic patents," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-029, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:09029

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Malva, Antonio Della & Hussinger, Katrin, 2012. "Corporate science in the patent system: An analysis of the semiconductor technology," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 118-135.
    2. repec:eee:tefoso:v:128:y:2018:i:c:p:235-244 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Huang, Mu-Hsuan & Yang, Hsiao-Wen & Chen, Dar-Zen, 2015. "Increasing science and technology linkage in fuel cells: A cross citation analysis of papers and patents," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 237-249.
    4. Hanna Hottenrott & Cornelia Lawson, 2014. "Research grants, sources of ideas and the effects on academic research," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(2), pages 109-133, March.
    5. Dirk Czarnitzki & Katrin Hussinger & Cédric Schneider, 2012. "The nexus between science and industry: evidence from faculty inventions," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 37(5), pages 755-776, October.
    6. repec:spr:scient:v:98:y:2014:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-013-1131-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Foray, Dominique & Lissoni, Francesco, 2010. "University Research and Public–Private Interaction," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.

    More about this item


    academic inventors; intellectual property rights; patent oppositions;

    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
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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