This paper investigates whether patent fee policies are a potential factor underlying the boom in patent applications observed in major patent offices. We provide the first panel-based evidence suggesting that fees affect the demand for patents in three major patent offices (EPO, USPTO and JPO), with a price elasticity of about -0.4 (similar to that of the residential demand for oil or water). The laxity of fee policies adopted by patent offices over the past 25 years therefore contributed, to a significant extent, to the rising propensity to patent observed since the mid-nineties. This is especially true at the European Patent Office, which has dramatically decreased its fees since the mid-1990s.
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