NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Technology Entry in the Presence of Patent Thickets

Bronwyn H. Hall, Christian Helmers, Georg von Graevenitz

NBER Working Paper No. 21455
Issued in August 2015, Revised in January 2017
NBER Program(s):Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

We analyze the effect of patent thickets on entry into technology areas by firms in the UK. We present a model that describes incentives to enter technology areas characterized by varying technological opportunity, complexity, and the potential for hold-up due to the presence of patent thickets. We show empirically that our measure of patent thickets is associated with a reduction of first time patenting in a given technology area controlling for the level of technological complexity and opportunity. Technological areas characterized by more technological complexity and opportunity, in contrast, see more entry. Our evidence indicates that patent thickets raise entry costs, which leads to less entry into technologies regardless of a firm’s size.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21455

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