Why Do Start-Ups Patent?
Stuart J. H. Graham
Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business; United States Patent and Trademark Office
Ted M. Sichelman
University of San Diego School of Law
September 6, 2008
Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 23, 2008
Numerous scholars have proposed many different explanations for why inventors and innovative companies patent. Few scholars, however, have conducted empirical studies seeking to confirm or deny these theories. Furthermore, there are only a handful of studies examining how entrepreneurs and start-up companies use and are affected by the U.S. patent system, and none answers the question presented in our title. We first briefly survey the dominant theories of why innovators file for patents and why they forgo patenting, focusing on how well, if at all, these theories apply to start-up companies. Next, we examine the existing empirical data on the topic and find it generally inconclusive. Last, we describe the 2008 Berkeley Patent Survey, the first survey in the United States examining patents and entrepreneurship, which is currently underway at the direction of the authors and other investigators. In particular, we discuss the survey questions designed to answer why entrepreneurs and start-ups patent (or choose not to do so) and offer some hypotheses based on previous research.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: patent, patenting, entrepreneur, start-up, early-stage, survey
JEL Classification: O31, O32, O34, K29
Date posted: April 16, 2008 ; Last revised: April 27, 2009
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