Conference on Patent Statistics for Decision Makers, OECD, November 27th-29th 2012

The international conference, co-organized between the OECD and the European Patent Office (EPO), gathered practitioners, managers and policy-makers around the subject of patent statistics. The event covered the state-of-art in the granting and dissemination of patents in the context of a globalized economy. Furthermore, the conference staged several studies on the socio-economic impact of patents and generated a discussion concerning the relevant policy decisions that are required to shape the patent system.

A pre-conference workshop, which took place in the afternoon of November 27th, focused on the latest edition of EPO’s comprehensive patent database: PATSTAT. While this database centralizes on European statistics on patent application and grants, it also includes abstracts from other countries as Japan and is planned to account for Chinese citations in 2013. Attendants presented recently developed techniques for data extraction and data pairing with financial databases. This technical workshop presented researchers with several resources and tools to nourish future studies.

The first day of the conference centered on “patent economics.” Researchers from universities and research centers presented analyzes on co-patenting, IP bundling, meso-level performance, as well as case studies. In general, discussants agreed on the inadequacy of “one-size-fits-all” approaches to the study of the use of patents and policy-making. Patents are more at the core of business models in certain industries (e.g., pharmaceuticals) than others (e.g., software). Some companies belonging to the former tie their product life-cycles to the granted patent exclusivity. Software companies, on the other hand, although likely to use patents to rent appropriation of their products, IP protection does not dictate the feasibility of product development. Regarding granting and diffusing patents, economists from patent offices stressed out the need of further integration and coordination in the European Single Market. A remarkable initiative was EPO’s Unitary Patent project, which seeks to establish a straightforward procedure to register patents through-out all European Union jurisdictions.

The second day of the conference was more oriented towards policy. It began with a panel composed by the heads of the European and Brazilian patent offices, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and OECD’s Deputy Secretary General. The panel highlighted the need to keep common interest at the heart of any adjustment to the patent system. To avoid misuse and abuse of the system, patent offices need to be selective and rigorous in the application of patenting criteria: novelty, inventive steps, and industrial application. This would allow these organization to insure the intrinsic economic value in patents. The rest of the day was dedicated to empirical studies on the functioning of patent systems. In particular, individual sessions were dedicated to financing schemes (e.g., patent office and venture capital) and the spatial dimension.