Commercialization and Other Uses of Patents in Japan and the US: Major Findings From the RIETI-Georgia Tech Inventor Survey

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Walsh, John P.
Nagaoka, Sadao
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Based on the newly implemented inventor survey in Japan and the US, we have examined the commercialization and other uses of triadic patents. Although the two countries have a similar overall level of commercialization (60% of the triadic patents), the structure is different: in Japan, we see a higher incidence of in-house use relative to the overall level of commercialization, more inventions being licensed and less used for startups. We also see more multiple uses (in-house and license/startup) in Japan. In both countries licensing plays a relatively important role for commercializing the inventions from R&D targeted to new business and to enhancing the technology base. Consistently, licensing becomes more important as a patenting reason as the invention involves more scientific knowledge. The key difference in startups between the two countries is a high incidence of the inventions of university researchers being used for startups in the US (35%). In both countries strategic holding (use of the patents for blocking and the prevention of inventing around) is one of the major reasons of non-commercialized patents. Only 20% of the internally commercialized patents can be used on a stand-alone basis in both countries, and both the incidence of cross-license conditional on license and the incidence of license itself tend to increase with the size of the bundle of the patents to be jointly used with that invention. As appropriation measures, the first mover advantage (FMA) in commercialization and the FMA in R&D are the most important in both countries, while the latter becomes more important as the invention involves more scientific knowledge. The US inventors rank patent enforcement significantly higher than possessing complementary capabilities, while the reverse is the case for Japanese inventors. In addition, enhancing the exclusive exploitation of the invention is a more important patenting reason in the US. The fact that the commercialization rate of patented inventions is quite similar between the two countries despite of the significant difference of the appreciation of exclusivity indicates that exclusivity may promote exploitation in certain areas and retard it in others. Finally, non-conventional patenting reasons are also important in both countries: blocking and pure defense are at least as important as licensing, and corporate reputation is an important reason for patenting by small firms.
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