The economics of patents: examination, discrimination and knowledge transfer

Fei Yu

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis aims to examine several important issues associated with patents, patent policy and knowledge transfer. It contains four core parts. In the beginning, a game theory model is constructed to understand how national patent offices may be able to manipulate the procedure of patent examination and hence help domestic firms to catch up with their foreign counterparts in innovation. Then, possible discriminatory policies against foreign patentees are investigated by numerical simulations of the game theory model. Crosscountry patent application data are employed to test whether this catching up strategy is actually practiced in patent offices of China, Europe, Japan, Korea and the US. Furthermore, a case study of selected pharmaceutical companies is provided to explore whether foreign patentees would retaliate against non-national treatments they received in the host countries. Finally, patent citation records of the US patents granted to inventors located in China are analyzed with a view to gaining insights into the role of foreign direct investments (FDI) in knowledge spillovers. The study of patent citations suggests that foreign inventors play an important role in knowledge spillovers to developing countries such as China. However, the game theory model implies that certain degree of discrimination against foreign inventors is possible to stimulate domestic firms to leap frog in innovation. This mechanism can be highly disguised if only limited patents or patent fields are subject to discriminatory manipulations. The cross-country analysis seems to support the existence of this practice in China, Japan and Korea, but it is not evident in Europe and the US. Nonetheless, over-discrimination which is perceivable to foreign patentees can lead to retaliations by not filing patent applications. Since individual patentees' reaction is not enough to remove protectionism in national patent offices, it is proposed that closer international cooperation is need
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


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