The Effect of Patent Protection on Inventor Mobility
Management Science, Volume 66, Issue 12, 2020, Pages 5485-5504
47 Pages Posted: 2 May 2017 Last revised: 16 Dec 2020
Date Written: December 20, 2017
This article investigates the effect of patent protection on the mobility of early-career employee-inventors. Using data on patent applications filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office between 2001 and 2012 and examiner leniency as a source of exogenous variation in patent protection, we find that one additional patent granted decreases the likelihood of changing employers, on average, by 23 percent. This decrease is stronger when the employee has fewer coinventors, works outside the core of the firm, and produces more basic-research innovations. These findings are consistent with the idea that patents turn innovation-related skills into patent-holder-specific human capital.
Keywords: inventors, patents, mobility, specific human capital, examiner leniency
JEL Classification: J62, O32, O30, O43
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