NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Does it Matter Who Has the Right to Patent: First-to-invent or First-to-file? Lessons From Canada

Shih-tse Lo, Dhanoos Sutthiphisal

NBER Working Paper No. 14926
Issued in April 2009
NBER Program(s):   DAE

A switch to a first-to-file patent regime from its first-to-invent system has become imminent for the U.S. To learn about probable effects of such a policy change, we examine a similar switch that occurred in Canada in 1989. We find that the switch failed to stimulate Canadian R&D efforts. Nor did it have any effects on overall patenting. However, the reforms had a small adverse effect on domestic-oriented industries and skewed the ownership structure of patented inventions towards large corporations, away from independent inventors and small businesses. These findings challenge the merits of adopting a first-to-file patent regime.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w14926

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