Thursday, June 7, 2012
Patent Oppositions as Competitive Tools: An Analysis of the Major Players in the European Market of White Goods
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Alessandro STERLACCHINI (Universita Politecnica delle Marche, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali) explores Patent Oppositions as Competitive Tools: An Analysis of the Major Players in the European Market of White Goods.
ABSTRACT: This paper examines the role and determinants of patent oppositions between the main competitors in a given industry. Differently from previous studies, it is not concerned with high-tech firms but considers the major players in the European market of white goods. Thus, we are dealing with a medium-tech, scale intensive industry which, during the last two decades, has been characterised by a stagnating demand and decreasing unit values. As a result, the level of competition has increased, especially in terms of product quality and innovations. Among the consequences of that, the leading companies in Europe have not only intensified their patenting activities but also the usage of oppositions against the patents of direct competitors. By considering 961 patents granted by the EPO to the above companies over the period 2000-2005, the paper shows, among other things, that the probability of receiving an opposition from indu! stry rivals does not depend on the patent quality or value. Accordingly, it contends that, at least in the industries of this kind, the extent and direction of patent oppositions are mainly associated with idiosyncratic corporate characteristics and strategies.