skip to main content

Title: Early Disclosure of Invention and Reduced Duplication: An Empirical Test
Much work on innovation strategy assumes or theorizes that competition in innovation elicits duplication of research and that disclosure decreases such duplication. We validate this empirically using the American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA), three complementary identification strategies, and a new measure of blocked future patent applications. We show that AIPA—intended to reduce duplication, through default disclosure of patent applications 18 months after filing—reduced duplication in the U.S. and European patent systems. The blocking measure provides a clear and micro measure of technological competition that can be aggregated to facilitate the empirical investigation of innovation, firm strategy, and the positive and negative externalities of patenting. This paper was accepted by Joshua Gans, business strategy.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Management Science
Page Range / eLocation ID:
2677 to 2685
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. One of the most commanding powers of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is to compel inventions into secrecy, withholding patent rights and prohibiting disclosure, to prevent technology from leaking to foreign competitors. This paper studies the impacts of compulsory secrecy on firm invention and the wider innovation system. In World War II, USPTO issued secrecy orders to more than 11,000 patent applications, which it rescinded en masse at the end of the war. Compulsory secrecy caused implicated firms to shift their patenting away from treated classes, with effects persisting through at least 1960. It also restricted commercialization and impeded follow-on innovation. Yet it appears it was effective at keeping sensitive technology out of public view. The results provide insight into the effectiveness of compulsory secrecy as a regulatory strategy and into the roles, and impacts, of formal intellectual property in the innovation system. This paper was accepted by Toby Stuart, entrepreneurship and innovation. Funding: This work was supported by Harvard Business School (Division of Research and Faculty Development) and the National Bureau of Economic Research (Innovation Policy Grant). This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation [Grant 1951470]. Supplemental Material: Data and the online appendices are available at . 
    more » « less
  2. How important is access to patent documents for subsequent innovation? We examine the expansion of the USPTO Patent Library system after 1975. Patent libraries provided access to patents before the Internet. We find that after patent library opening, local patenting increases by 8–20 percent relative to similar regions. Additional analyses suggest that disclosure of technical information drives this effect: inventors increasingly take up ideas from outside their region, and the effect is strongest in technologies where patents are more informative. We thus provide evidence that disclosure plays an important role in cumulative innovation. (JEL D83, K11, O31, O34, R11) 
    more » « less
  3. Patents are key strategic resources which enable firms to appropriate innovation returns and prevent rival imitation. Patent examiners – individuals who may be subject to various sources of bias – play a central role in determining which inventions are awarded patent rights. Using a novel dataset, we explore if one increasingly prevalent source of bias – political ideology – manifests in examiner decision-making. Reassuringly, our analysis suggests that the political ideology of patent examiners is largely unrelated to patent office outcomes. However, we do find evidence suggesting politically active conservative-leaning examiners are more likely to grant patents relative to politically active liberal-leaning examiners, but only for patent applications where there is ambiguity regarding what constitutes patentable subject matter and hence examiners have greater discretion. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Cell-free synthetic biology is a maturing field that aims to assemble biomolecular reactions outside cells for compelling applications in drug discovery, metabolic engineering, biomanufacturing, diagnostics, and education. Cell-free systems have several key features. They circumvent mechanisms that have evolved to facilitate species survival, bypass limitations on molecular transport across the cell wall, enable high-yielding and rapid synthesis of proteins without creating recombinant cells, and provide high tolerance towards toxic substrates or products. Here, we analyze ~750 published patents and ~2000 peer-reviewed manuscripts in the field of cell-free systems. Three hallmarks emerged. First, we found that both patent filings and manuscript publications per year are significantly increasing (five-fold and 1.5-fold over the last decade, respectively). Second, we observed that the innovation landscape has changed. Patent applications were dominated by Japan in the early 2000s before shifting to China and the USA in recent years. Finally, we discovered an increasing prevalence of biotechnology companies using cell-free systems. Our analysis has broad implications on the future development of cell-free synthetic biology for commercial and industrial applications. 
    more » « less
  5. Dmitry Zaytsev (Ed.)

    Despite the importance of diverse expertise in helping solve difficult interdisciplinary problems, measuring it is challenging and often relies on proxy measures and presumptive correlates of actual knowledge and experience. To address this challenge, we propose a text-based measure that uses researcher’s prior work to estimate their substantive expertise. These expertise estimates are then used to measure team-level expertise diversity by determining similarity or dissimilarity in members’ prior knowledge and skills. Using this measure on 2.8 million team invented patents granted by the US Patent Office, we show evidence of trends in expertise diversity over time and across team sizes, as well as its relationship with the quality and impact of a team’s innovation output.

    more » « less