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Which road to take? Filing routes to the European Patent Office

: Frietsch, Rainer; Neuhäusler, Peter; Rothengatter, Oliver


World Patent Information 35 (2013), Nr.1, S.8-19
ISSN: 0172-2190
Fraunhofer ISI ()
patent; filing route; patent grant; strategic patenting

This paper deals with the question if structural variables, like the industrial structure of an economy, are related to the choice of a filing route to the European Patent Office (EPO) via Euro-PCT, EPO or national first filing. Second, and maybe even more importantly, we raise the question if the choice of a filing route is correlated with the probability of a patent filing being granted, withdrawn or refused in the examination process.
To analyse those questions, we constructed a dataset consisting of nearly two million patent filings at the EPO between the priority years 1985 and 2008 based on the "EPO Worldwide Patent Statistical Database" (PATSTAT), differentiated by filing country, technological sector and the type of applicant. Our descriptive and multivariate results show that Euro-PCT and EPO first filings have gained increased importance since 1985 and are most often used by EPC member states. However, national offices remain important, especially for MNEs who mostly claim national priority first before filing at the EPO. Furthermore, we show that the choice of a filing route is associated with the outcome of the examination process. Euro-PCT filings, for example, have a higher probability to be granted than their directly filed counterparts.