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NBER Working Papers and Publications
|May 2018||From Revolving Doors to Regulatory Capture? Evidence from Patent Examiners|
with Thomas G. Wollmann: w24638
Many regulatory agency employees are hired by the firms they regulate, creating a “revolving door” between government and the private sector. We study these transitions using detailed data from the US Patent and Trademark Office. We find that patent examiners grant significantly more patents to the firms that later hire them and that much of this leniency extends to prospective employers. These effects are strongest in years when firms are actively hiring, and these relationships hold for the intensive margin of intellectual property protection. Ultimately, this leads the agency to issue lower quality patents, which we measure in citations. Together with other supporting evidence, we argue these results are suggestive of regulatory capture.
|October 2016||Patent Disclosures and Standard-Setting|
with Josh Lerner, Jean Tirole: w22768
A key role of standard setting organizations (SSOs) is to aggregate information on relevant intellectual property (IP) claims before deciding on a standard. This article explores the firms’ strategies in response to IP disclosure requirements—in particular, the choice between specific and generic disclosures of IP—and the optimal response by SSOs, including the royalty rate setting. We show that firms with a stronger downstream presence are more likely to opt for a generic disclosure, as are those with lower quality patents. We empirically examine patent disclosures made to seven large SSOs, and find results consistent with theoretical predictions.