NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Christian Helmers

Contact and additional information for this authorAll papers and publicationsWorking Papers onlyWorking Papers with publication info

Working Papers and Chapters

May 2013The Importance (or not) of Patents to UK Firms
with Bronwyn H. Hall, Mark Rogers, Vania Sena: w19089
A surprisingly small number of innovative firms use the patent system. In the UK, the share of firms patenting among those reporting that they have innovated is about 4%. Survey data from the same firms support the idea that they do not consider patents or other forms of registered IP as important as informal IP for protecting inventions. We show that there are a number of explanations for these findings: most firms are SMEs, many innovations are new to the firm, but not to the market, and many sectors are not patent active. We find evidence pointing to a positive association between patenting and innovative performance measured as turnover due to innovation, but not between patenting and subsequent employment growth. The analysis relies on a new integrated dataset for the UK that combines...
April 2012The Choice between Formal and Informal Intellectual Property: A Literature Review
with Bronwyn H. Hall, Mark Rogers, Vania Sena: w17983
We survey the economic literature, both theoretical and empirical, on the choice of intellectual property protection by firms. Our focus is on the tradeoffs between using patents and disclosing versus the use of secrecy, although we also look briefly at the use of other means of formal intellectual property protection.
March 2011Innovation and Diffusion of Clean/Green Technology: Can Patent Commons Help?
with Bronwyn H. Hall: w16920
This paper explores the characteristics of 238 patents on 94 “inventions” contributed by major multinational innovators to the “Eco-Patent Commons”, which provides royalty-free access to third parties to patented climate change related innovations. By comparing the pledged patents to other patents in the same technologies or held by the same multinationals, we investigate the motives of the contributing firms as well as the potential for such commons to encourage innovation and diffusion of climate change related technologies. This study, therefore, indirectly provides evidence on the role of patents in the development and diffusion of green technologies. More generally, the paper sheds light on the performance of hybrid forms of knowledge management that combine open innovation and patent...
September 2010The role of patent protection in (clean/green) technology transfer
with Bronwyn H. Hall: w16323
Global climate change mitigation will require the development and diffusion of a large number and variety of new technologies. How will patent protection affect this process? In this paper we first review the evidence on the role of patents for innovation and international technology transfer in general. The literature suggests that patent protection in a host country encourages technology transfer to that country but that its impact on innovation and development is much more ambiguous. We then discuss the implications of these findings and other technology-specific evidence for the diffusion of climate change-related technologies. We conclude that the “double externality” problem, that is the presence of both environmental and knowledge externalities, implies that patent protection may no...

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