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Pablo Benalcazar: Modern Tools on Patent Thicket Identification


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V Międzynarodowa Konferencja Naukowa Nauka o informacji (informacja naukowa) w okresie zmian Innowacyjne usługi informacyjne. Wydział Dziennikarstwa, Informacji i Bibliologii Katedra Informatologii, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Warszawa, 15 – 16 maja 2017

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Pablo Benalcazar: Modern Tools on Patent Thicket Identification

  1. 1. Modern tools on patent thicket identification P. Benalcazar, J. Kamiński, P. Kaszyński 15.05.2017 mineral and energy economy research institute Polish Academy Of Sciences
  2. 2. Intellectual Property Rights Patent is a tool to promote innovation. Used by inventors to obtain exclusive rights to make, use, and sell their discoveries for a certain period of time [1] [2]. Innovation on a patentable subject matter, the invention must be specific and useful, non-obvious, and not have been disclosed prior to the patent application. In a patent application, the claim construction or the wording of the claim is what defines the scope of protection and the “unity of invention”. 2
  3. 3. Patent Growth • Economic growth based on technological innovation. • Cumulative innovation has led to complex products. • Not only patents, but the transaction of patents has improved the dissemination of knowledge, the diffusion of technology and has nurtured competition between firms [3]. 3 *(PTC) Patent Cooperation Treaty Source:
  4. 4. “Patent Explosion” 4 Growth of Nanotechnology Patents (2000, 2002, 2004) Source: Clarkson, G. And Dekorte, D. (2006) • Systematic failure of the Patent system and economic inefficiencies. • Growing debate that the surging number of patent filings, along with the differences between patent office regions, has increased the number of “weak” patents being granted. • Currently, around the world there is a large backlog of pending patent applications. • Interest of the scientific community due to the lack of tools to verify the existence of patent thickets.
  5. 5. Discrete and complex technologies 5 • Discrete when a new commercially available product or process is made of relatively few separable and patentable elements (like chemical processes) [8]. • Complex if a product consists of many, sometimes hundreds of patentable elements (like telecommunication) [8]. Often, in complex technologies, companies do not own rights to all essential components of the product. The overlapping rights foster the creation of patent thickets.
  6. 6. Patent Thickets Patent thickets are dense webs of overlapping intellectual property rights owned by one or more different companies (patent owners), which create a potential high cost in commercializing a new technology, and this cost is difficult to assess upfront (Shapiro 2001). 6 Fig 2. Patenting Strategies (a – “valid patent”, b – “weak patent”, c – “ring fencing”). The boundaries represent the scope of the patent. Source: IPO (2011)
  7. 7. Circumstances leading to Patent Thickets • Patent breadth Fundamental inventive steps and cumulative innovation. • Probabilistic patents “Chance of winning the patent lottery by filing multiple patents on closely related technologies”[7]. • Patent holdup and strategic patenting Bargaining in diversely-held patented technologies. • Transaction costs Rents between an infringer and a patent holder. 7
  8. 8. Examination of Patent Networks 8 • Expert-based method - data from the USPTO on 12,312 patents from 58 patent groups (subclasses within the USPC classification scheme). • A group of 8 subject matter experts asked to review patents in the 58 patent groups. Patent class 8 – Bleaching and dyeing Source: Own work Patent group 23/313 – Chemistry: physical processes. Agglomerating Source: Own work Discrete Complex
  9. 9. Network Analytic approach 9 Patents represent network nodes and patent citations reflect network ties between the nodes [9]. There may be areas of higher patent network density that may have been aggregated into a pool (Potential false positives). The method is based on defining a measure of network density, where density relates to citations between patents, and then on the analysis of this measure – the higher density the better chance of patent thicket occurrence in the given area of a patent network [10]. Source: Adapted from (Galvin Clarkson, 2005) Source: Adapted from (Galvin Clarkson, 2005)
  10. 10. Identification of constellations (Triples) 10 • Nodes are firms and edges are patent references. • Patent thickets can be measured from patent data by using an algorithm that analyzes information on blocking of one patent by another. Source: adapted from (Von Graevenitz et al., 2013) Source: adapted from (Von Graevenitz et al., 2013)
  11. 11. Identification of constellations (Triples) 11 Source: (Von Graevenitz et al., 2013)
  12. 12. Identification of constellations (Triples) 12 Source: (Von Graevenitz et al., 2013)
  13. 13. Patent Thickets and Pendency Time 13 Average Granted Application Age for Selected Countries 2008-2015 (in years) Source: (Von Graevenitz et al., 2013) Source: Trend in patent applications for the top five offices (2016)
  14. 14. Patent Thickets and Pendency Time 14 Test model [11] • Approval delay = f(importance, location in innovation cycle, control variables) Control variables: • Number of claims • Examiner • Attorney • Year • In the USPTO important innovations tend to be approved more quickly [11]. • Approval delay decreases in the later stages of innovation cycles [12]. • Increase in pendency time in the EPO is also caused by the complexity of the patent applications, which can lead to an increase in workload and to longer pendency times.
  15. 15. Conclusions 15 • Economic growth based on technological innovation. Cumulative innovation has led to complex products. • Growing debate that the surging number of patent filings, along with the differences between patent office regions, has increased the number of “weak” patents being granted. • In recent years, there has been a significant progress in the study of patent thickets and in the area of intellectual property rights. • An increase in the number of patent filings may not be the only determinant condition for the observed growth in patent thickets, and have attributed the increased pendency and growth of patent thickets to patents with vague (broad), overlapping and even conflicting patent claims [13].
  16. 16. References 1. Lichtman D.: Patent holdouts and the standard-setting process, vol. 1, no. 1996, 2006. 2. Lemley M.: Software Patents and the Return of Functional Claiming, Stanford Public Law Work. Pap. No. 2117302, pp. 1–57, 2012. 3. Galasso A., Schankerman M.: Patent thickets, courts, and the market for innovation, “RAND J. Econ.”, 41(3)/2010, pp. 472–503 4. Shapiro, C. (2001). Navigating the Patent Thicket: Cross Licenses, Patent Pools, and Standard Setting. National Bureau of Economic Research. 5. Intellectual Property Office, Patent Thickets - An overview, Newport, 2011. 6. Shapiro C.: Navigating the Patent Thicket: Cross Licenses, Patent Pools, and Standard Setting, Natl. Bur. Econ. Res., 2001 7. Lemley, M., & Shapiro, C. (2005). Probabilistic Patents. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19(2), 75–98. 8. Gątkowsk M., Dietl M., Benalcazar P., Kaszyński P., Kamiński J.(2016) - An examination of the patent networks: a peek at patent thickets from different technology classes. XXXVI Sunbelt Conference of the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA). 9. Keunen, Simone, Empirically Detecting Patent Thickets (December 14, 2009). TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2009-047. Available at SSRN: or 10. Clarkson, G. (2004). Objective Identification of Patent Thickets : A Network Analytic Approach Introduction When organizations in technology industries attempt to advance their innovative Objective Identification of Patent Thickets. Harvard Business School Doctoral Thesis. 11. Regibeau, P., K. Rockett (2010) “Innovation Cycles and Learning at the Patent Office: Does the Early Patent Get the Delay?” Journal of Industrial Economics 58(2), 222‐246. 12. Harhoff, D., & Wagner, S. (2009). The Duration of Patent Examination at the European Patent Office. Management Science, 55(12), 1969–1984. 13. Barnett, J. M. (2014). From Patent Thickets to Patent Networks: The Legal Infrastructure of the Digital Economy. Jurimetrics, Forthcomin, 1–55 14. Clarkson, G. and Dekorte, D. (2006), The Problem of Patent Thickets in Convergent Technologies. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1093: 180–200. doi:10.1196/annals.1382.014 16
  17. 17. References Thank you for your attention 17