Book Review: Les brevets de la croissance

June 2006

Les Brevets de la croissance ou IPness=HAPPYness, by Marc Chauchard, published (in French)by Editions Paradigme, France, 2005, ISBN 2-86878-250-7
Les Brevets de la croissance ou IPness=HAPPYness, by Marc Chauchard, published (in French)by Editions Paradigme, France, 2005, ISBN 2-86878-250-7

"Statistician: A man who believes figures don’t lie, but admits that under analysis some of them won’t stand up either." - Evan Esar

Marc Chauchard, a counselor in industrial property in France, has written Les Brevets de la croissance ou IPness = HAPPYness for the "Collection Survey," described as a vehicle for experts and practitioners connected with multifarious fields of human activity. With a group of professionals from several disciplines to assist him, he sets out to quantify the value of industrial property to an entire national economy.

Mr. Chauchard is aware of the pitfalls in tracing a quantifiable statistical connection between the number of patents affecting French domestic productivity, and the growth of French Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as well as in evaluating the general impact of innovation on French society. He rightly raises the problem of definitions—such as the different components used to calculate national productivity, and the different criteria for patentability in various countries. While offering indications regarding other developed countries, he limits the scope of his overall study to France.

It is not possible to outline Mr. Chauchard’s entire methodology here. But he explains and presents a series of detailed calculations and tables, using such data as annual numbers of patent applications (including certificates for utility models) affecting French domestic productivity, the sums spent on research and development in France with a base year of 1995, and official figures of French domestic productivity also with a base year of 1995.

The devil is not entirely in the details, as Mr. Chauchard realizes, but also in the interpretation of data. Giving an example, he specifically points out that a coefficient of positive co-relation of 97 percent between data on patent applications and GDP in a given period does not mean that patent applications directly contribute 97 percent to GDP growth: his conclusion that the two phenomena that are co-related cannot be interpreted exclusively as cause and effect is reasonable.

The author is fully aware of the chicken and egg dilemma of the question, is GDP growth directly attributable to a high level of innovation, or does a healthy economy generate more R&D, leading to more innovation? In estimating the contribution of GDP to innovation, he acknowledges frankly that he uses intuition to ascribe a 33 percent contribution to each of the factors of market and competition pressures, financial resources made available to research and development by shareholders, and teams of inventors and researchers.

Mr. Chauchard’s general conclusions will be considered by the intellectual property community to be perfectly sound: innovation is a positive factor in any economy, and can be improved by better nationwide education in intellectual property at various levels, by the worldwide consideration of related ethical questions, and by greater international reciprocity in the handling of applications for industrial property titles.

The seriousness of the subject deserves better than illustrations based on a cartoon-like mascot figure, but the important graphics, such as the explanatory tables, graphs and calculations are clearly and thoughtfully presented. This publication will be of interest to both specialists and students of intellectual property and its statistics. Students will find meticulous explanations of the nature of a patent and of the procedures involved in processing a patent application , which will assist them in following the whole work’s reasoning, while the specialists and statisticians will find food for thought in the complexities of quantifying the value of industrial property. Mr. Chauchard has tackled an ambitious task with enthusiasm, while respecting the hypothetical nature of statistics.

The WIPO Magazine is intended to help broaden public understanding of intellectual property and of WIPO’s work, and is not an official document of WIPO. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of WIPO concerning the legal status of any country, territory or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. This publication is not intended to reflect the views of the Member States or the WIPO Secretariat. The mention of specific companies or products of manufacturers does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by WIPO in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.