Patent Disclosures and Standard-Setting

by Josh Lerner, Haris Tabakovic, and Jean Tirole

Overview — Technological standards are a central component of the modern network economy. Standard setting organizations (SSOs) play a variety of roles. One of the most important is ensuring the disclosure of relevant intellectual property—in particular, potentially essential patents—prior to the key decisions about a proposed standard. This study finds that large downstream firms are more likely to make generic disclosures to SSOs. Higher quality patents are more likely to be disclosed via specific disclosures.

Author Abstract

A key role of standard setting organizations (SSOs) is to aggregate information on relevant intellectual property (IP) claims before deciding on a standard. This article explores the firms’ strategies in response to IP disclosure requirements—in particular, the choice between specific and generic disclosures of IP—and the optimal response by SSOs, including the royalty rate setting. We show that firms with a stronger downstream presence are more likely to opt for a generic disclosure, as are those with lower quality patents. We empirically examine patent disclosures made to seven large SSOs and find results consistent with theoretical predictions.

Paper Information