28th jul, 2009

Patents live longer

I came across two studies by Nicolas van Zeebroeck:

They are pretty interesting and worth a read (even if the 2008 study is full of stange calculations). The conclutions however are pretty clear.

The life of patents have increased over the last few decases. This is especially obvious in young technologies (bio, IT and nano). There is some evidence that the quality of applications are falling since there is an increase in withdrawn and not granted patents.

The patents which live longer than average is characterized by being

  • complex (many claims)
  • part of a large patent family
  • More cited by others

 This makes good sense because you would guess that such a patent is more important to the owner.

The second study also concludes that companies with a portfolio view of their IP lead to longer patent survival. A portfolio view sees not the individual patent but the whole IP pool, a strategy employed for years by fx IBM and more recently by Microsoft. The focus is on quantity not quality. Another contributing factor may be that when amassing a huge portfolio the IP manegement dept. becomes a bottleneck, which again leads to renewal of rights by default.

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