Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School
The Battle for Patent Rights in Plant Biotechnology: Evidence from Opposition
Abstract: This paper describes and analyzes the occurrence and
extent of oppositions initiated against plant biotechnology patents granted
by the European Patent Office (EPO). The opposition mechanism is a legal
procedure that allows any third party to challenge the validity of patents
awarded by the EPO. Results indicate that the opposition rate is far
greater in plant biotechnology than in other emerging industries.
Consistent with theoretical predictions, the empirical findings suggest
that opposed patents are disproportionately those that score high on
features that proxy for their “value” or “quality”. In contrast to previous
findings, however, the results show that large-volume applicants are more
likely to be opposed. Because the boundaries of plant biotech patents are
ill-defined, large patent portfolios do not promote cooperative behavior
such as licensing or settlements. The analysis rejects the hypothesis that
awardees are subject to “nuisance” or “frivolous” oppositions. Instead, the
opposition procedure serves as an error correction mechanism.
Keywords: litigation; biotechnology; patents; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: K41; L65; O34; (follow links to similar papers)
28 pages, June 28, 2010
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