Recent Research: Inventor concentration boosts productivity

Jennifer Roche prepared the following summary of a recent Enrico Moretti working paper for the November 2019 issue of the NBER Digest. The summary has been edited here for length and clarity; SSTI comments are in brackets.

USPTO releases draft strategic plan, seeks comments

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released a draft of its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. The draft plan identifies three strategic goals to guide USPTO’s activities over the 4-year period. They include to: optimize patent quality and timeliness; to optimize trademark quality and timeliness; and, provide domestic/global leadership to improve intellectual property (IP) policy, enforcement, and protection worldwide. For interested parties, USPTO is seeking comments regarding all aspects of the plan. Comments are due September 20.

USPTO ‘lottery’ creates huge economic advantage for winners

In a recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the authors contend the U.S. Patent Office (USPTO) has created a lottery-type system that creates great economic benefit for startups and other patent-seekers that drew lenient patent examiners. In What Is A Patent Worth? Evidence from The U.S. Patent “Lottery,” the authors found that patent applications by startups that were reviewed by lenient USPTO examiners had, on average, 55 percent higher employment growth and 80 percent higher sales growth five years later. Those startups also pursue more and higher quality, follow-on innovation. These results are, in large part, due to increased access of funding from VCs, banks, and public investors.

Patent trolls delivered setbacks in court rulings

Two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions will greatly shape patent holder rights by limiting where patent lawsuits can be filed and restricting patent rights after a product is sold. These rulings are considered by many analysts to be beneficial for startups, small businesses, and consumers. The biggest losers will be patent trolls – patent owners who collect IP rights only to seek infringement damages – who likely will face more pushback against their patent lawsuits and may see fewer settlements.

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