NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Role of Patents for Bridging the Science to Market Gap

Thomas Hellmann

NBER Working Paper No. 11460
Issued in July 2005
NBER Program(s):   PR

This paper examines an ex-post rationale for the patenting of scientific discoveries. In this model,

scientist do not know which firms can make use of their discoveries, and firms do not know which

scientific discoveries might be useful to them. To bridge this gap, either or both sides need to engage

in costly search activities. Patents determine the appropriability of scientific discoveries, which

affects the scientists. and firms. willingness to engage in search. Patents decrease dissemination

when the search intensity of firms is sufficiently elastic, relative to that of scientists. The model also

examines the role of universities. Patents facilitate the delegation of search activities to the

universities’ technology transfer offices, which enables efficient specialization. Rather than

distracting scientists from doing research, patenting may be a complement to doing research.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11460

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