Incidence and Growth of Patent Thickets - the Impact of Technological Opportunities and Complexity

45 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2008

See all articles by Georg von Graevenitz

Georg von Graevenitz

Queen Mary, School of Business and Management; Center for Competition Policy; University of Glasgow - CREATe, RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy

Stefan Wagner

ESMT European School of Management and Technology

Dietmar Harhoff

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition; Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Date Written: July 2008

Abstract

We investigate incidence and evolution of patent thickets. Our empirical analysis is based on a theoretical model of patenting in complex and discrete technologies. The model captures how competition for patent portfolios and complementarity of patents affect patenting incentives. We show that lower technological opportunities increase patenting incentives in complex technologies while they decrease incentives in discrete technologies. Also, more competitors increase patenting incentives in complex technologies and reduce them in discrete technologies. To test these predictions a new measure of the density of patent thickets is introduced. European patent citations are used to construct measures of fragmentation and technological opportunity. Our empirical analysis is based on a panel capturing patenting behavior of 2074 firms in 30 technology areas over 15 years. GMM estimation results confirm the predictions of our theoretical model. The results show that patent thickets exist in 9 out of 30 technology areas. We find that decreased technological opportunities are a surprisingly strong driver of patent thicket growth.

Keywords: complexity, patent portfolios, patent thickets, patenting, technological opportunities

JEL Classification: L13, L20, O34

Suggested Citation

von Graevenitz, Georg and Wagner, Stefan and Harhoff, Dietmar, Incidence and Growth of Patent Thickets - the Impact of Technological Opportunities and Complexity (July 2008). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP6900, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1240210

Georg Von Graevenitz

Queen Mary, School of Business and Management ( email )

Mile End
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

Center for Competition Policy ( email )

UEA
Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR47TJ
United Kingdom

University of Glasgow - CREATe, RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy ( email )

10 The Square, Glasgow University
Glasgow, G12 8QQ
United Kingdom

Stefan Wagner

ESMT European School of Management and Technology ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
10117 Berlin
Germany

Dietmar Harhoff (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition ( email )

Marstallplatz 1
Munich, Bayern 80539
Germany
+49 89 24246 550 (Phone)
+49 89 24246 599 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ip.mpg.de

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München ( email )

Munich, 80539
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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