Is the patent system a level playing field? The effect of patent attorney firms
30 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2018 Last revised: 24 Nov 2021
Date Written: November 1, 2021
The patent system underpins the business model of some of the fastest-growing companies. Used appropriately, it should support frontier technologies and nurture new firms. Used perniciously, it can stifle innovation and protect established technological behemoths. We analyse patent examination decisions at the American, European, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese patent offices and find evidence that patent attorney firms have a surprisingly large role in the patent system. Patent attorney firm quality is most important, vis-à-vis invention quality, in less codified and more rapidly changing technology areas such as software and ICT. Moreover, patent attorney firm quality matters more when invention quality is low. Finally, there is a significant inter-patent office variation, with a greater patent attorney firm quality effect at the USPTO.
Keywords: appropriation, innovation, patent attorney firm, patent system
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