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Further research project
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research

Patent Thickets

The term "patent thickets" describes technology fields with a high number of patents that have overlapping claims. Patent thickets are most likely to emerge in "complex technologies", i.e., fields where multiple patents are used to protect products such as cell phones, computers, etc. Some observers have argued that patent thickets may lead to legal uncertainty, holdup situations and excessive barriers to entry. In patent thickets incentives for post-grant opposition and litigation may be reduced, if firms fear counter-challenges. Therefore, some of the error-correction mechanism upon which patent systems rely may not be working properly in patent thickets. Moreover, R&D incentives may be impacted as well. Research in this area tries to develop measures and to come to reliable empirical assessments of the implications of patent thickets for innovation and competition.

Persons

Members

Prof. Dietmar Harhoff, Ph.D.,
Georg von Graevenitz, Ph.D.,
Dr. Stefan Wagner

Fields of Research