| 13.09.2022

Doctoral defence: A new type of European patent will make patenting simpler and cheaper

A new patent protection, called the Unitary Patent, is expected to be introduced in Europe in 2023. This simplified procedure will reduce the cost of patenting in Europe. New research provides insights on how firms and consumers in Europe will be affected by this institutional change.

In his doctoral thesis, Alexis Stevenson explores how the design of patent systems and more specifically the costs of patenting affect the incentives to innovate. In Europe, every year a patent owner has to decide whether to pay a renewal fee to keep the patent in force or let it lapse which means it enters the public domain and can be used freely.

“When we think of patents, we sometimes have in mind very valuable protected inventions such as pharmaceutical patents. In fact, most of the patented inventions are not renewed for the full term, which is usually 20 years from the filing date. This fact suggests that a large fraction of the patented inventions are of relatively low value because they are not worth paying the yearly renewal costs of hundreds to thousands of euros for the full term”, says Alexis Stevenson.

The current patent system in Europe is both highly fragmented and costly. The option of the Unitary patent will be a major institutional change which aims to provide a uniform framework to enforce patents in Europe with the payment of a single renewal fee to protect an invention in all Member States. This simplified procedure will reduce the cost of patenting in Europe, but little is known about how firms and consumers will be affected by this new patent regime.

This research, co-authored with Otto Toivanen and Tuomas Takaloassesses what would be the coverage, the length and the quality of existing patented inventions if the patent owners had the choice to apply for a Unitary Patent instead of the existing European Patent.

“In this research, we find overall a modest benefit of introducing a Unitary Patent where the average gain for the inventors are compensated by a loss for the European consumers. In relative terms, Austrian, Luxembourgish, Dutch, French and Italian inventors gain the most while Danish, Greek, Irish and Luxembourgish consumers lose the most.” summarises Stevenson.
You can read the whole thesis here.
Alexis Stevenson will defend his doctoral thesis “Essays on the Economics of Patent Rights: Measuring the value of patents using renewal information” on Friday, September 16 at 12:00 EEST at Hanken School of Economics (Arkadiankatu 22, 00100 Helsinki, Finland), as well as remotely.
You can attend the defence online by clicking on this Teams link.
Opponent: Professor Carlos Serrano, HEC Paris
Custos: Professor Rune Stenbacka, Hanken School of Economics