How do Intellectual Property Rights help commercializing inventions in Europe? The case of the introduction of the European community patent system

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Sektionen för management


This thesis will show how patents policies can help the commercialization of inventions in Europe. Our study is mainly based on statistical material contained in the European Patent Office’s (EPO) database of published granted patents. Our study covers 407 granted patents in the field of chemistry and handling & processing in a one period year starting on 2007-12-24 and ending on 2008-12-26.Given the scope of data analysis, we found a tendency to limit the patents post (after) grant to a few states in Europe, mainly to Germany (DE), France (FR), Great Britain (GB), Italy (IT), Spain (ES), The Netherlands (NL) and Sweden (SE). This limitation in time and designated states is an indication that the markets in these states are the most important ones in Europe concerning the fields of chemistry and handling & processing for the applicant of the patent (e.g. the proprietor). In more than 70% of the number of granted patents post grant in our empirical study DE, FR and GB are the designated states. But we also found that in several of the granted patents in our thesis, Austria (AT), Belgium (BE), Switzerland (CH) and Finland (FI) are designated post grant. The numbers of designated states, post grant, in the scope of our thesis are higher compared with earlier studies applying the same method. For example Markus Reitzig’s empirical study that was made in 2004 uses 813 granted European patents, where the designation of DE, FR and GB was more significant and only 4-5 states on average were designated. It is an indication that the European market has extended the last 10 years within the fields of our study. The uniqueness of our empirical study comes from the survey of each of the 407 granted patents when it was filed at the European Patent Office (EPO) and after grant and publishing (post grant), i.e. at the beginning of the life cycle of the patent. As far as we know no earlier studies did so. Concerning our sample of applications for a European patent, the rational is the following. When the application is filed at EPO are all possible states designated, but post grant of the patent only a few state remains. Concerning the selection of the field of patenting, our consideration of data singularises chemistry and handling & processing. Clearly in the field of chemistry we found a marked incremental tendency for the transfer of patents rights. The transfer itself may be an indicator of a change either of industrial process toward R&D or a strategy toward patent policies in this specific field. The thesis tries consequently to evaluate if the EU-patent system will ease the commercialization of inventions in chemistry and handling´& processing in Europe. Especially for SMEs the EU-patent should facilitate a quicker and cheaper process. A general opinion assumes that the European patent application is too expensive for small companies. The process of establishing EU-patent was initiated 30 years ago and it will last another 5 years before it is fully possible to filing. Obviously, legal and political matters are not completely solved but that is not the direct concern of this thesis.

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