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Orsatti, Gianluca, and Sterzi, Valerio – Do Patent Assertion Entities Harm Innovation? Evidence from Patent Transfers in Europe – Cahiers du GREThA 2018-6 

The recent upsurge of patent litigation cases initiated by patent assertion entities (PAEs) in the US has led to an intense debate about their effect on innovation dynamics and on the IP system functioning. We contribute to this debate by providing original evidence on high-tech patent transfers involving PAEs at the European Patent Office from 1997 to 2012. Our evidence is threefold. First, relative to both patents transferred to producing companies (PEs) and never-transferred patents, patents purchased by PAEs are on average of higher technological quality. PAEs may thus increase liquidity in the patent market, enhancing its efficiency. Second, around the transfer and in the post transfer period, the citation profile of patents transferred to PAEs falls considerably, suggesting that PAEs do not play as intermediaries in the market. Interestingly, also patents transferred to PEs do receive fewer citations after the transfer, suggesting an increasing incidence of strategic patent acquisitions in the ICT domain and opening relevant questions about its entire functioning. Finally, a finer comparison of citation profiles between patents transferred to PAEs and patents transferred to PEs shows a non-significant difference in the post-transfer citation drop: also PEs, when involved in transfers of specific technologies, seem not to purchase patents for inventing around the protected technologies.

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→ V. Sterzi, F.Lissoni, M.Pezzoni – Patent management by universities: evidence from Italian academic inventions – Industrial and Corporate Change (2019)

Over the past 20 years, European universities have increased their propensity to retain title of their faculty’s inventions, but evidence on the value of such patents is at best mixed. Based on a longitudinal sample of Italian academic patents (patents over faculty’s inventions), assigned either to universities or firms, we find that the lower value of university-owned patents, versus firm-owned ones, is owing to lower Technological Importance of the inventions and less effective Exploitation of the related patents. Lack of experience in managing patented inventions explains our results for Technological Importance, but not for Exploitation. Both are unrelated to the presence of a technology transfer office. Our study suggests caution in pushing universities to expand their patent portfolios and in using university-owned patents as indicators of technology-transfer activities.

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→ S. Fusco, F. Lissoni, C. Martinez, V. Sterzi – Monetization Strategies of University Patents through PAEs: an Analysis of US Patent Transfers  – ISSI (the International Society for Informetrics and Scientometrics) Proceedings (2019)

The pressure to extract rents from academic research results has led many universities to file more patents and to rely on a growing range of monetization strategies including selling patents to Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs).
We build a database of university patents granted by the USPTO and, for each of them, we collect information about the change of ownership. A first analysis of these data shows that about 12% of university patents have been transferred at least once (including reassignments to universities, hospitals, public research centres and governmental institutions) and only a minor part has been acquired by PAEs (the 0.3% of university patents). However, we also find that most transfers of university patents to PAEs occurred in the last ten years (3.4% of transfers). These acquisitions are largely concentrated in two large PAEs that acquired about 80% of all PAEs-acquired university patents: Intellectual Ventures and Intellectual Discovery.
An econometric analysis on the characteristics of university patents transferred to PAEs shows that patents transferred to PAEs are of high quality, suggesting that PAEs cherry pick good patents for monetization purposes. PAEs acquire also older university patents than those transferred to producing companies. This fact suggests that these transfers are not linked to technology transfer.

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