We investigate the reasons why different governance modes are used in a sample of successful collaborative patenting activities in Europe. First we show that collaboration activities in the patenting process are much more common than one may expect by looking only at information on co-assignment. Indeed, collaborative patenting activity accounts for more than a quarter of all patents in our sample. This figure is about eight times higher than that from co-assignment data (usually considered to assess cooperation in patenting). We then examine the impact of organizational, individual and project determinants on the choice of three possible modes of governance: coassignment,co-invention, collaborative agreement. We find that higher project complexity and technological scope are associated to tighter modes of governance. We also find a significant negative relationship between licensing and co-assignment, thus providing some support to the view that some licensing can be the result of ex-ante legal agreements rather than of the presence of a market for technology. Finally, inventor specific characteristics matter too. In particular, age increases the probability of choosing looser governance modes while better education is associated to tighter modes.
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