Exploring the Opaqueness of the Patent System - Evidence from a Natural Experiment

59 Pages Posted: 5 May 2015

See all articles by Dietmar Harhoff

Dietmar Harhoff

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

Sebastian Stoll

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

Date Written: March 26, 2015

Abstract

One of the objectives of patent systems is to disclose information which other agents can build on in further inventions and in their decision-making. While some observers take it as given that real-world patent systems serve this objective, we argue in this article that patent systems are highly opaque and likely to be of limited value as a source of information. We use data from a natural experiment to explore this issue. Requests for accelerated examination used to be publicly observable at the European Patent Office (EPO). Starting in December 2001, the EPO started to treat these requests as confidential information. Using data on acceleration requests which were historically known only to the applicant and the EPO, and later provided to us, we test whether the change in the information regime impacted the actions of applicants and their rivals. We develop a theoretical model of acceleration requests and patent opposition to identify the extent to which the patent system is opaque. We confirm empirically that opposition and acceleration rates of high-value patents change significantly in most technological areas once acceleration requests become unobservable. We interpret these results as evidence that the system is highly opaque in many fields.

Keywords: patent value; opaqueness; accelerated examination; patent opposition; European Patent Office (EPO)

Suggested Citation

Harhoff, Dietmar and Stoll, Sebastian, Exploring the Opaqueness of the Patent System - Evidence from a Natural Experiment (March 26, 2015). Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Research Paper No. 15-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2591781 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2591781

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

Sebastian Stoll

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition ( email )

Marstallplatz 1
Munich, Bayern 80539
Germany

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
81
Abstract Views
966
rank
330,029
PlumX Metrics