The Effect of Patent Protection on Inventor Mobility
54 Pages Posted: 2 May 2017 Last revised: 21 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 20, 2017
This paper investigates the effect of patents on the mobility of employee inventors. We suggest that patent rights reduce mobility by making inventors' innovation implementation skills more specific to their current employer. We analyze this question by drawing on U.S. patent application data for the period 2001--2012 and using examiner leniency as an exogenous source of variation in patent protection. The results indicate that one additional patent granted decreases inventor mobility by approximately 25 percent. The effect is stronger in cases where inventors are particularly relevant for the implementation of the innovation and in technologies where patents are more effective.
Keywords: Inventors, patents, mobility, appropriation, firm-specific human capital
JEL Classification: J62, O32, O30, O43
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