How to track patent transfers in Europe: a first empirical analysis

Catalina Martinez (CSIC Institute of Public Goods and Policies), Lauren Ciaramella & Yann Ménière, “How to track patent transfers in Europe: a first empirical analysis”

This article provides both methodological and empirical contributions to the literature on the analysis of technology marketsand patenttransfers. Drawing onmore than half a million granted patents filed at EPO between 1998 and 2012 and almost300,000 inscriptions affecting changes in their ownership atthe EPO and top national registers (France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain), we carry out an empirical analysis ofthe market for European patents in medical technologies. The methodology that we develop makes it possible to track and group parallel inscriptionsin different European validation countries, and to  distinguishbetween  intragroup  transfers  and  real  market  transactions  (bare). Around  35%  of  the 40,919  EPO  patents  on  medical  technologies  in  our  sample  were  transferred  at  least  once  in  their lifetime, and two thirds of those transfers happened ‘intragroup’. We findthatthe number of transfers has positive effectson the family size,scope andrenewals. Focusing on the bare transfers, we observe that most of the almost 2,000 real market transactions in our sample concernone patentonly, and that sales of large patent portfolios are not frequent in this industry. The multiplicity of small transactions moreover suggests  a  heterogeneity  of economicbehaviors,  possibly  driven  by  patents  with  multiple ownership and a high share of start-ups. We find that a small minority of large actors is present on both the  supply  and  demand  sides  of  the  market,  acting  more  frequently  than  other  types  of  agentsand accounting for a large part of transactions in the patent market.