A 1993 survey on the innovative activities of Europe's largest industrial firms obtained useable results on patenting activities for 604 respondents. The data are used to calculate the sales-weighted propensity rates for 19 industries. The propensity rates equal the percentage of innovations for which a patent application is made. The propensity rates for product innovations average 35.9%, varying between 8.1% in textiles and 79.2% in pharmaceuticals. The average for process innovations is 24.8%, varying from 8.1% in textiles to 46.8% for precision instruments. Only four sectors have patent propensity rates, for both product and process innovations combined, that exceed 50%: pharmaceuticals, chemicals, machinery, and precision instruments. Regression results that control for the effect of industry sector show that patent propensity rates increase with firm size and are higher among firms that find patents to be an important method for preventing competitors from copying both product and process innovations. The effect of secrecy is not so straightforward. Firms that find secrecy to be an important protection method for product innovations are less likely to patent, as expected, but secrecy has little effect on the propensity to patent process innovations. The R&D intensity of the firm has no effect on patent propensity rates for both product and process innovations. The sector of activity has a strong influence on product patent propensities but very little effect on process patent propensities, after controlling for the effect of other factors.
Research Policy – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 1998
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