Discussion paper

DP17911 Innovation Networks and Business-Stealing

We use the universe of US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) data on patents and inventors from 1976 to 2017 to look at how inventors’ potential concern for business-stealing affects coauthorship on patents. First, we find an inverted-U shape in the fraction of coauthors that an inventor has per year who are new as a function number of other inventors also working in an inventor's field. Second, we find that after a breakthrough invention, an inventor brings in persistently fewer than usual new coauthors. Third, a higher potential concern for business stealing—as measured either by the number of others working or the average price markups by firms in the area—leads to a higher drop in the fraction of new co-authors per patent after a breakthrough. We show how these patterns can be explained via a simple model in which inventors trade off gains from collaboration against threats of business stealing.


Aghion, P, M Jackson, A Mayerowitz and A Tagade (2023), ‘DP17911 Innovation Networks and Business-Stealing‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 17911. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp17911