Jensen, P. and Webster, E. (2009). “How important are patents for commercializing inventions?”, Australasian Science, October, 35-36. Reprinted in the Business-Higher Education Roundtable (B-HERT) News, October 2009, 4-6.
The survey identifies five stages of commercialization – licensing or spin-off; development; make and sell; mass production; and export – and asks inventors to report whether they attempted each stage of commercialization. Our results suggest that while the receipt of a patent grant had a positive and statistically significant effect on most commercialization stages, the magnitude of the effect is quite modest. In fact, the marginal patent value – that is, the marginal increase in the probability of attempting a commercialization stage due to the presence of a patent – varies from 2.0 (export) to 8.0 (mass production stage) percentage points. Although patents matter, we conclude that they are not the powerful force that economic theory suggests.