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Thursday, 15th November 2012

UK: A Study of Patent Thickets

Source: National Institute of Economic and Social Research (UK)

From the Introduction:

This study investigates a question posed by the UK Intellectual Property Office concerning patent policy and SMEs:

Are patent thickets a barrier to entry and how do they affect small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)?...

A patent thicket is “a dense web of overlapping intellectual property rights that a company must hack its way through in order to actually commercialize new technology” (Shapiro, 2000). Patent thickets consist of patents that protect components of a modular and complex technology. Here modular means that different sets of components can be assembled to yield a variety of technological products. Complex means that products consist of tens or hundreds of such modular components. Each component may end up being used in several products. Often there are partial or complete overlaps in the functionality of components and then the patents protecting the components may also overlap. If overlapping patents belong to different firms, then a patent thicket exists.

+ Direct link to document (PDF; 1.4 MB)


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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

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