Does Trading Spur Specialization? Evidence from Patenting
60 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2020 Last revised: 15 Apr 2021
Date Written: October 1, 2020
Exploiting staggered establishments of patent exchanges in China, we examine how patent trading affects firm innovation and specialization. We find that patent trading and in-house innovation are complements for patent sellers, whereas they are substitutes for the buyers. Our findings demonstrate that the market for technology induces (i) specialization between patent buyers and sellers, (ii) specialization between patent licensors and licensees, and (iii) specialization based on a firm’s R&D efficiency. All these three patterns of specialization indicate that a firm’s response to an emerging market for technology hinges on its comparative advantages. Firms with a comparative advantage in creating innovation redirect their resources from advertising to patenting activities, whereas firms with a comparative advantage in commercializing innovation switch their effort from patenting to advertising activities. Moreover, enhanced patent trading contributes to improved firm performance and increasing market concentration. Our findings suggest patent trading promotes comparative-advantage-based specialization and enhances firm performance.
Keywords: Innovation, Market for Technology, Patent Trading, Patent Licensing, Specialization, Division of Labor, R&D, Patent
JEL Classification: O31, O33, O34, G14
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