NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Patent Trading Flows of Small and Large Firms

Nicolas Figueroa, Carlos J. Serrano

NBER Working Paper No. 18982
Issued in April 2013
NBER Program(s):   IO   PR

This article presents the results of an analysis of the patent trading flows of small and large firms and the determinants of these firm's patent sale and acquisition decisions. We also examine whether these transactions lead to an excessive concentration of patent rights. We show that small firms disproportionately sell and acquire more patents than large firms, and find no evidence that patent trading brings about a significant concentration of patent rights in the hands of large firms. We find that the match between new patented innovations and the original inventor's patent portfolio plays an important role in how successful firms are at generating value from their patents, and in the decision to sell a patent. And among the traded patents, we show that patent acquisitions respond to complementarities between the acquired patented innovation and the buyer's technological capabilities to adopt it. Our empirical analysis uses a new, comprehensive data set that matches information on patent trades and the identity of patent owners over a patent's lifetime.

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