The Role of Fees in Patent Systems: Theory and Evidence
Gaétan de Rassenfosse
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie
Free University of Brussels - Solvay Business School; Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) - Department of Applied Economics (DULBEA); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
October 2, 2011
Journal of Economic Surveys, Forthcoming
This paper reviews the economic literature on the role of fees in patent systems. Two main research questions are usually addressed: the impact of patent fees on the behavior of applicants and the question of optimal fees. Studies in the former group confirm that a range of fees affect the behavior of applicants and suggest that a patent is an inelastic good. Studies in the latter group provide grounds for both low and high application (or pre-grant) fees and renewal (or post-grant) fees, depending on the structural context and on policy objectives. The paper also presents new stylized facts on patent fees of thirty patent offices worldwide. It is shown that application fees are generally lower than renewal fees, and renewal fees increase more than proportionally with patent age.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: application fees, patent system, price elasticity, intellectual property policy, renewal fees
JEL Classification: O30, O31, O38, O57
Date posted: October 20, 2010 ; Last revised: October 29, 2011
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