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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

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Date posted: April 16, 2008 ; Last revised: October 29, 2015

Suggested Citation

Graham, Stuart J. H. and Sichelman, Ted M., Why Do Start-Ups Patent? (September 6, 2008). Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 23, 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1121224

Contact Information

Stuart J. H. Graham (Contact Author)
Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business ( email )
800 W. Peachtree Str. NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States
404-385-0953 (Phone)
404-894-6030 (Fax)

United States Patent and Trademark Office ( email )
600 Dulany Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.uspto.gov
Ted M. Sichelman
University of San Diego School of Law ( email )
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States
(619) 260-7512 (Phone)
(619) 260-2748 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.sandiego.edu/law/academics/faculty/bio.php?id=795
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