Pioneers, Submariners, or Thicket-Builders: Which Firms Use Continuations in Patenting?

63 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2007 Last revised: 11 Jun 2022

See all articles by Deepak Hegde

Deepak Hegde

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

David C. Mowery

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Stuart J.H. Graham

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business

Date Written: June 2007

Abstract

The continuations procedure within the U.S. patent system has been criticized for enabling firms to manipulate the patent review process for strategic purposes. Changes during the 1990s in patent procedures affected the incentives of applicants to exploit the continuations process, and additional reforms in continuations currently are being considered. Nonetheless, little is known about applicants' use of the three major types of continuations -- the Continuation Application (CAP), the Continuations-In-Part (CIP), and Divisions -- to alter the term and scope of patents. This paper analyzes patents issued from the three types of continuations to U.S. firms during 1981 - 2004 (with priority years 1981 - 2000), and links their frequency to the characteristics of patents, assignees and industries. We find that CIPs are disproportionately filed by R&D-intensive, small firms that patent heavily, and are more common in chemical and biological technologies. Patents resulting from CIP filings contain more claims and backward citations per patent on average, and cover relatively "valuable" inventions. In contrast, CAPs cover less valuable patents from large, capital-intensive firms that patent intensively, particularly in computer and semiconductor patents. We also analyze the effects of the 1995 change in patent term on continuation applications and find that the Act reduced the use of continuations overall, while shifting the output of CAPs toward "less important" patents.

Suggested Citation

Hegde, Deepak and Mowery, David C. and Graham, Stuart J.H., Pioneers, Submariners, or Thicket-Builders: Which Firms Use Continuations in Patenting? (June 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13153, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=992156

Deepak Hegde

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

David C. Mowery (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Stuart J.H. Graham

Georgia Institute of Technology - Scheller College of Business ( email )

800 West Peachtree St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States
404-385-0953 (Phone)
404-894-6030 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.scheller.gatech.edu/graham

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