Do Patents Alter the Direction of Scientific Inquiry? Evidence from a Survey of Academic Scientists

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 18/10

Date: October 2010


Paul H. Jensen
Elizabeth Webster


We use data from 3000 academic scientists to estimate the effects of other parties’ patents on the academics’ research. Nearly half of all scientists report that their choice of research projects has been affected by the presence of other parties’ patents. We find that transaction costs and the culture of the workplace have the largest influence over whether or not patents affect the direction of research but that scientists’ understanding of patent law; their recent experience seeking permission to use patented material; and the source of research funds are also significant.

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