Why Do Start-Ups Patent?

Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 23, 2008

35 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2008 Last revised: 29 Oct 2015

See all articles by Stuart J.H. Graham

Stuart J.H. Graham

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business

Ted M. Sichelman

University of San Diego School of Law

Date Written: September 6, 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.

Keywords: patent, patenting, entrepreneur, start-up, early-stage, survey

JEL Classification: O31, O32, O34, K29

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1121224

Stuart J.H. Graham (Contact Author)

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business ( email )

800 West Peachtree St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States
404-385-0953 (Phone)
404-894-6030 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.scheller.gatech.edu/graham

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://https://www.sandiego.edu/law/faculty/profiles/bio.php?ID=795

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics