IP Outreach Research > IP Use and Awareness


Title: Are patents important? Evidence from the UK CIS 3
Author: Henrique M Barros [University of Warwick]

2004 DRUID Summer Conference on industrial dynamics, innovation and development Papers

Year: 2004


Subject/Type: IP Protection
Focus: Patents
Country/Territory: United Kingdom
Objective: To investigate the determinants of the importance of patents as a protective mechanism in UK manufacturing industry.
Sample: 3.440 British manufacturing firms
Methodology: Analysis of Community Innovation Survey (CIS 3)-based data

Main Findings

The importance of patents to UK manufacturing firms is found to be influenced by several factors: firm size (the larger the firm, the more importance it will place on patents; still, being small does not preclude a firm from regarding patents as important, provided that it is innovative); innovative capacity (more innovative firms seem to regard patents as more important than less innovative ones do); partnerships with universities and government support (depending on the agents engaged in these activities, firms with university partnerships/government support are more likely to consider patents of high importance than firms without this type of partnerships); degree of competition (a more competitive environment may be conducive to greater importance for patents).

Another important factor is appropriation strategy: firms with pro-active appropriation strategies (those according high importance to mechanisms of appropriability allowing them to protect their innovations) tend to rank patents as more important than those firms for which such mechanisms are only of marginal importance. This seems to indicate that patents work as a complement to other appropriability mechanisms, such as registrations of design, trademarks, confidentiality agreements, copyright, secrecy, complexity of design, and lead-time advantage on competitors. The importance of patents also varies across industrial sectors, with appropriability being especially important in: pharmaceuticals; chemicals; medical, precision and optical instruments; machinery, and communication equipments.

In view of these findings, the main objective of UK manufacturers taking out patents seems to be to exercise property rights over their inventions. The combination of patents with other appropriability mechanisms can collectively strengthen the overall appropriability of innovations.

[Date Added: Aug 13, 2008 ]