How SMEs Exploit Their Intellectual Property Assets: Evidence from Survey Data

26 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2010 Last revised: 21 Jul 2012

See all articles by Gaétan de Rassenfosse

Gaétan de Rassenfosse

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Date Written: September 1, 2012


This paper seeks to understand how motives to patent affect the use of the patent portfolio with a particular focus on motives aimed at the monetization of intellectual property (IP). The analysis relies on data from an international survey conducted by the European Patent Office (EPO). The main results can be summarized as follows. First, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) exhibit a much stronger reliance on ‘monetary patents’ than large companies and nearly half of the SMEs in the sample patent for monetary reasons. Second, SMEs tend to use their patents more actively than large firms. Third, smaller companies generally have a higher proportion of their portfolio that is licensed but the licensing rate is significantly higher in the U.S. An American SME is twice as likely as a European SME to have a high share of its portfolio that is actually licensed, witnessing a fragmented market for technology in Europe.

Keywords: financing constraint, intellectual property strategy, market for technology, motives to patent, multivariate ordered models, technology licensing

JEL Classification: O32, O34, O38, G21, G24

Suggested Citation

de Rassenfosse, Gaétan, How SMEs Exploit Their Intellectual Property Assets: Evidence from Survey Data (September 1, 2012). Small Business Economics, 39(2), 437-452, Available at SSRN: or

Gaétan De Rassenfosse (Contact Author)

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne ( email )

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