Patent Metrics: The Mismeasure of Innovation in the Biotech Patent Debate

69 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2006

See all articles by David E. Adelman

David E. Adelman

University of Texas School of Law; University of Texas at Austin - Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law & Business

Kathryn L. DeAnglis

Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe LLP

Abstract

The view that biotechnology patenting has reached unsustainable levels is well accepted among many legal scholars. This Article presents the first comprehensive empirical study of biotechnology patents. Our analysis reveals the striking rise and fall in patenting, the surprisingly diffuse pattern of patent ownership, and a consistent influx of new entrants conducting biotechnology research and development. This Article finds little evidence that the rise in biotechnology patenting is adversely affecting innovation. Counting patents, as it turns out, offers few insights on its own. One must also have a measure of the geographic scope of the scientific commons and the distribution of patents within it. These findings lead to a cautionary corollary for patent metrics generally - fundamental uncertainties associated with the statistics of innovative success cannot be overcome by sophisticated empirical methods. Ironically, the current enthusiasm for empirical work may have caused academics to reify abstract statistics over the obvious complexity of innovative processes.

Keywords: biotechnology, patents, statistics, metrics

Suggested Citation

Adelman, David E. and DeAnglis, Kathryn L., Patent Metrics: The Mismeasure of Innovation in the Biotech Patent Debate. Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 06-10; Texas Law Review, Vol. 85, p. 1677, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=881842

David E. Adelman (Contact Author)

University of Texas School of Law ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States
512-232-0877 (Phone)

University of Texas at Austin - Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law & Business ( email )

727 East Dean Keeton Street
Austin, TX 78705
United States

Kathryn L. DeAnglis

Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe LLP

1200 Nineteenth Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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