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150 Years of Patent Office Practice

46 Pages Posted: 25 May 2006  

Josh Lerner

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: January 2000

Abstract

An extensive theoretical literature has examined the impact of information problems on interactions between government bodies and private firms. One little-explored empirical testing ground is the patent system. This paper examines the administrative practices of patent offices in sixty countries over a 150-year period. I show that the usage of patent renewal fees and other mechanisms to grant discretion to patentees is consistent with theoretical suggestions. Nations where information asymmetries between government officials and patentees are likely to be more prevalent-larger countries, wealthier economies, and those where international trade is more important-incorporate discretionary features into their patent systems more frequently. I also find evidence that policymakers are more likely to restrict patent office officials' flexibility and to divide the responsibility for determining patentability between the patent office and the courts when information problems are likely to be severe.

Suggested Citation

Lerner, Josh, 150 Years of Patent Office Practice (January 2000). NBER Working Paper No. w7477. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=227595

Josh Lerner (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6065 (Phone)
617-496-7357 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/jlerner/

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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