Tickets to the Global Market: First US Patent Awards and Chinese Firm Exports
75 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2023 Last revised: 22 Sep 2023
Date Written: August 17, 2023
We investigate how international patent activity enables firms from emerging economies to thrive in the global marketplace. We match Chinese customs data to US patent records, and leverage the quasi-random assignment of USPTO patent examiners to identify the causal effect of a US patent grant on the subsequent export performance of Chinese firms. Successful first-time patent applicants achieve significantly higher export growth, compared to otherwise similar first-time applicants that failed. This effect operates only in small part through the protection of market power for patent- related products in the US, and is largely driven by expansion in other markets. The response across destinations and products reveals that a US patent award signals the Chinese firm’s capacity to produce high-quality products and credibility to honor contracts, mitigating information frictions in international trade. There is little evidence for the relaxation of financial constraints or the promotion of follow-on innovation.
Keywords: Patent Grant; Trade; Quality Signal; USPTO; Patent to Product match
JEL Classification: D22; F10; F14;O30; O34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation