My work on patents and other intellectual property looks at the empirical effects of:
1) Using intellectual property in academia, where it may conflict with some of the norms of science
2) Firms racing for patents
3) Patent scope on firm innovation (e.g. R&D)

Academic Licensing and Patenting

As university involvement in technology transfer and entrepreneurship has increased, concerns over the patenting and licensing of scientific discoveries have grown. This paper examines the effect that the licensing of academic patents has on journal citations to academic publications covering the same scientific research. We analyze data on invention disclosures, patents, and licenses from the University of California, a leading U.S. academic patenter and licensor, between 1997 and 2007. We also develop a novel “inventor–based” maximum–likelihood matching technique to automate and generalize Murray’s (2002) “patent–paper pairs” methodology. We use this methodology to identify the scientific publications associated with University of California patents and licenses.

Based on a “differences–in–differences” analysis, we find that, in general, licenses are associated with an increase in journal citations to related scientific publications. The timing of this effect supports recent research that suggests that academic licenses may act as positive signals of research potential in research fields linked to the licensed invention (Drivas et al. 2014). In contrast, we find that licensing of research inputs (which we identify through the use of material transfer agreements, or MTAs) depresses citations to related scientific publications. Our results suggest that, overall, licensing of academic patents does not limit scientific communication linked to patented academic research. But our findings on the effects of licenses on research inputs, however, raise the possibility that licensing may restrict the flow of inputs to further scientific research among researchers.

Patent Races

This project uses “Patent Twins” – cases where two discovers file patent applications at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the same invention at the same time – to see how firms react to getting (not-getting) patent protection for their ideas. A large theoretical literature has emphasized the importance of these Patent Races between firms, but there have been empirical challenges to studying them in practice (detailed below).

This research takes advantage of a new data set from the USPTO to address these concerns.
In genetics research, it is common to disentangle the impact of nature vs. nurture using twin studies. Scholars such as Michael Bikard have imported this concept into innovation research with “Paper Twins” – areas where a single discovery is made by multiple research teams and published simultaneously in the scientific literature (Bikard, 2014).

Our research takes this concept a step further and considers “Patent Twins” – instances where the same invention is filed with the patent office within a narrow window of time. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the patent filings by Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray on the invention of the telephone within a few hours of each other.
This work is joint with Jeff Kuhn.

Patent Scope

This project attempts to quantify how much the scope of a patent impacts the research and development of firms, as well as follow on innovation. To do this we create novel measures of patent scope.
This work is joint with Jeff Kuhn and Ben Roin.

Materials / Links