The Bright Side of Patents

62 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2016

See all articles by Joan Farre-Mensa

Joan Farre-Mensa

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Finance

Deepak Hegde

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Alexander Ljungqvist

Stockholm School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2016

Abstract

Motivated by concerns that the patent system is hindering innovation, particularly for small inventors, this study investigates the bright side of patents. We examine whether patents help startups grow and succeed using detailed micro data on all patent applications filed by startups at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) since 2001 and approved or rejected before 2014. We leverage the fact that patent applications are assigned quasi-randomly to USPTO examiners and instrument for the probability that an application is approved with individual examiners’ historical approval rates. We find that patent approvals help startups create jobs, grow their sales, innovate, and reward their investors. Exogenous delays in the patent examination process significantly reduce firm growth, job creation, and innovation, even when a firm’s patent application is eventually approved. Our results suggest that patents act as a catalyst that sets startups on a growth path by facilitating their access to capital. Proposals for patent reform should consider these benefits of patents alongside their potential costs.

Keywords: entrepreneurship, innovation, patents, R&D, venture capital

JEL Classification: D23, G24, L26, O34

Suggested Citation

Farre-Mensa, Joan and Hegde, Deepak and Ljungqvist, Alexander, The Bright Side of Patents (February 2016). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11091. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2733025

Joan Farre-Mensa (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Finance ( email )

2431 University Hall (UH)
601 S. Morgan Street
Chicago, IL 60607-7124
United States

Deepak Hegde

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

Alexander Ljungqvist

Stockholm School of Economics ( email )

111 60 Stockholm
Sweden

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o ECARES ULB CP 114
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

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