The Patent Paradox Revisited: An Empirical Study of Patenting in the Us Semiconductor Industry, 1979-95.
Posted: 22 Dec 2000
We examine the patenting behavior of firms in an industry characterized by rapid technological change and cumulative innovation. Recent survey evidence suggests that semiconductor firms do not rely heavily on patents to appropriate returns to R&D. Yet the propensity of semiconductor firms to patent has risen dramatically since the mid-1980s. We explore this apparent paradox by conducting interviews with industry representatives and analyzing the patenting behavior of 95 US semiconductor firms during 1979-95. The results suggest that the 1980s strengthening of US patent rights spawned "patent portfolio races" among capital-intensive firms, but also facilitated entry by specialized design firms.
Keywords: Patents, IPR, semiconductor industry, cumulative R&D
JEL Classification: O34, O32, L63
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