DP3645 Determinants of Opposition Against EPO Patent Grants - The Case of Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals

Author(s): Dietmar Harhoff, Markus Reitzig
Publication Date: November 2002
Keyword(s): European Patent Office, intellectual property rights, litigation, patents
JEL(s): K41, L00, L20
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=3645

We analyse the determinants of opposition to biotechnology and pharmaceutical patents granted by the European Patent Office between 1978–96. Opposition can be considered an early form of patent validity challenge suit. In our sample, 8.6% of the patents are attacked in opposition proceedings. Using citation and patent family indicators we show that valuable patents are more likely to be attacked, and that opposition is particularly frequent in areas with strong cumulative patent numbers and with high technical or market uncertainty. We comment on the implications of these results for the design of the patent and litigation system.