Patent Application Outcomes across the Trilateral Patent Offices

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 05/05

Date: April 2005


Paul H. Jensen
Alfons Palangkaraya
Elizabeth Webster


While most developed countries apply the same criteria to determine whether an invention is eligible to be protected by a patent, there are substantial procedural differences in the way in which different patent offices examine a patent application. This means that a patent application may be granted in one jurisdiction but rejected in others, which raises welfare concerns about the ability of patents to provide an ex ante incentive for investment. In this article, we analyze whether there are systematic differences in patent application outcomes across the trilateral patent offices. In order to determine how much disharmony exists, we examine whether the patent offices make consistent decisions for a given invention using a dataset of 70,000 patent applications that have been granted in the US and submitted in Japan and Europe and have a single, common priority application. Specifically, we model the patent application outcomes using a multinomial logit to see how the decisions made by the patent offices vary across different patent characteristics such as technology area, non-obviousness of the invention and priority country.

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