NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Are Patent Fees Effective at Weeding out Low-quality Patents?

Gaétan de Rassenfosse, Adam B. Jaffe

NBER Working Paper No. 20785
Issued in December 2014, Revised in July 2016
NBER Program(s):Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

The paper investigates whether patent fees are an effective mechanism to deter the filing of low-quality patent applications. The study analyzes the effect on patent quality of the Patent Law Amendment Act of 1982, which resulted in a substantial increase in patenting fees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Results from a series of difference-in-differences regressions suggest that the increase in fees led to a weeding out of low-quality patents. About 14 per cent of patents in the lowest quality decile were filtered out, and the effect was especially visible for companies with a large patent portfolio. The study has strong policy implications in the current context of concerns about declines in patent quality.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20785

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