nep-ipr New Economics Papers
on Intellectual Property Rights
Issue of 2016‒05‒21
four papers chosen by
Giovanni Ramello
Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale “Amedeo Avogadro”

  1. Low-quality Patents in the Eye of the Beholder: Evidence from Multiple Examiners By Gaétan de Rassenfosse; Adam B. Jaffe; Elizabeth Webster
  2. Are Settlements in Patent Litigation Collusive? Evidence from Paragraph IV Challenges By Eric Helland; Seth A. Seabury
  3. Societal Grand Challenges from a technological perspective: Methods and identification of classes of the International Patent Classification IPC By Frietsch, Rainer; Neuhäusler, Peter; Rothengatter, Oliver; Jonkers, Koen
  4. The geography of innovation in Italy, 1861-1913: evidence from patent data By Alessandro Nuvolari; Michelangelo Vasta

  1. By: Gaétan de Rassenfosse; Adam B. Jaffe; Elizabeth Webster
    Abstract: Low-quality patents are of considerable concern to businesses operating in patent-dense markets. There are two pathways by which low-quality patents may be issued: the patent office may apply systematically a standard that is too lenient (low inventive step threshold); or the patent office may grant patents that are, in fact, below its own threshold (so-called ‘weak’ patents). This paper uses novel data from inventions that have been examined at the five largest patent offices and an explicit model of the grant process to derive first-of-their-kind office-specific estimates of the height of the inventive step threshold and the prevalence of weak patents. The empirical analysis is based on patent applications granted at one office but refused at another office. We estimate that the fraction of patent grants associated with a patent standard that is lower than that of other countries ranges from 2-15%, with Japan having the tightest standard and the United States and China the loosest. The fraction of grants that are inconsistent with the office’s own standard ranges from 2-6 per cent. The fraction of grants that are inconsistent in this sense is generally higher in newer fields such as software and biotechnology, and lower in traditional fields such as mechanical engineering. Our estimates of invalidity are much lower than those that have been derived from litigation studies, consistent with litigated patents being highly non-representative of the population.
    JEL: K41 L43 O34
    Date: 2016–05
  2. By: Eric Helland; Seth A. Seabury
    Abstract: The use of “pay-for-delay” settlements in patent litigation – in which a branded manufacturer and generic entrant settle a Paragraph IV patent challenge and agree to forestall entry – has come under considerable scrutiny in recent years. Critics argue that these settlements are collusive and lower consumer welfare by maintaining monopoly prices after patents should have expired, while proponents argue they reinforce incentives for innovation. We estimate the impact of settlements to Paragraph IV challenges on generic entry and evaluate the implications for drug prices and quantity. To address the potential endogeneity of Paragraph IV challenges and settlements we estimate the model using instrumental variables. Our instruments include standard measures of patent strength and a measure of settlement legality based on a split between several Circuit Courts of Appeal. We find that Paragraph IV challenges increase generic entry, lower drug prices and increase quantity, while settlements effectively reverse the effect. These effects persist over time, inflating price and depressing quantity for up to 5 years after the challenge. We also find that eliminating settlements would result in a relatively small reduction in research and development (R&D) expenditures.
    JEL: I1 K0
    Date: 2016–04
  3. By: Frietsch, Rainer; Neuhäusler, Peter; Rothengatter, Oliver; Jonkers, Koen
    Abstract: [Introduction] The aim of this working paper is the provision of a list of IPC classes assigned to each of the technology-oriented Societal Grand Challenges (SGCs) of Horizon2020 and the description of the methods and workings steps that have led to this list. Patents are a vested right on the exclusive use of a certain technological solution. In consequence, patent data can only be collected for technology-driven or at least partially technology-affected areas. In terms of the Societal Grand Challenges, we see that six out of seven of them have at least in part a technology-affection, while one - namely "Europe in a changing world, inclusive, innovative and reflective societies" - can hardly be defined based on patent classes. We are fully aware of the fact that the Societal Grand Challenges have other, non-technical dimensions, which cannot be grasped on the basis of patents or patent statistics. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to provide a definition of the technological dimensions of the Societal Grand Challenges, while other dimensions will not be addressed. Next to definitions of patent classes for the six Grand Challenges, also definitions of the sub-fields of the Societal Grand Challenges will be provided. [...]
    Date: 2016
  4. By: Alessandro Nuvolari; Michelangelo Vasta
    Abstract: In this paper we provide a systematic appraisal of the spatial patterns of inventive activity in Italy in the period 1861-1913. Our main source of evidence is a data-set containing all patents granted in Italy in five benchmark years (1864-65, 1881, 1891, 1902, 1911). Our geographical unit of analysis is the province, an administrative district of the time. First, using some simple descriptive statistics, we introduce a characterization of the spatial distribution of patents and of its evolution over time. Second, we perform an econometric exercise in which we assess the connection between different forms of human capital and patent intensity. We are able to establish a robust correlation between literacy and “basic” patent intensity and robust correlation between secondary technical education and scientific and engineering studies and “high quality” patent intensity. Third, we study the connection between patents and industrialization. Our exercise shows that patents exerted a significant role in accounting for the level of industrial production. Interestingly enough, in this context, the role of patents was possibly more relevant than that of the availability of water-power and of the level of real wages (two factors that were pointed out by the previous literature, mostly on the basis of rather impressionistic accounts of the evidence). Our study warrants two main conclusions. First, domestic inventive activities were an important element of the industrialization process, even in a late-comer country such as Italy. Second, at the time of the unification, Northern provinces were characterized by more effective innovation systems. This factor contributes to explain the growing divide in economic performance between the North and the South of the country during the Liberal age
    Date: 2015–12

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