European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 215–234 | Cite as

Economic incongruities in the European patent system

  • Malwina MejerEmail author
  • Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie


This article suggests that the consequences of the ‘fragmentation’ of the European patent system are more dramatic than the mere prohibitive costs of maintaining a patent in force in many jurisdictions. The prevalence of national jurisdictions, which are highly heterogeneous in their costs and practices, over the validity and enforcement of European patents, induces a high level of uncertainty and an intense managerial complexity which reduce both the effectiveness and the attractiveness of the European patent system in its mission to stimulate innovation.


European patent system Litigation process Enforcement Uncertainty 

JEL Classification

K41 P14 O34 



The authors are grateful to Marco Connor, Francesco Lissoni and anonymous referees for their useful comments.


  1. Allgayer, U. (2005). A comparison of the litigations systems in Germany, France and United Kingdom. Munich: Patenta.Google Scholar
  2. American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA). (2005). Report of the economic survey. Washington, D.C.: Fetzer-Kraus.Google Scholar
  3. Bessen, J., & Meurer, M. J. (2006). Patent litigation with endogenous disputes. American Economic Review, 92(2), 77–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bessen, J., & Meurer, M. J. (2008a). Patent failure. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bessen, J., & Meurer, M.J. (2008b). The private cost of patent litigation. Boston University School of Law, Law and Economics Working Paper Series No. 07–08.Google Scholar
  6. Connor, M. (2008). European patents: What’s new in 2008 for the applicants? Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society, 90(6), 587–608.Google Scholar
  7. Cotropia, C. A., & Lemley, M. A. (2009). Copyright in patent law. Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 1270160.Google Scholar
  8. Council of the European Union Working Party on Intellectual Property, Document No. 11622/2007. Towards an enhanced patent litigation system and a community patent—How to take discussions further.Google Scholar
  9. Crampes, C., & Langinier, C. (2002). Litigation and settlement in patent infringement cases. The Rand Journal of Economics, 33(2), 258–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. European Patent Organization (2003). Workload and cost of the European Patent judiciary. WPL/4/03.Google Scholar
  11. European Patent Organization (2005). Assessment of the impact of European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA) on litigation of European Patents. WPL/11/05.Google Scholar
  12. Graham, S., Hall, B., Harhoff, D., & Mowery, D. (2003). Patent quality control: A comparison of US patent re-examinations and European patent oppositions. In A. Cohen & S. Merrill (Eds.), Patents and the knowledge based economy (pp. 74–119). Washington D.C: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  13. Graham, S. J., & Harhoff, D. (2006). Can post-grant reviews improve patent system design? A Twin Study of US and European Patents. CEPR Discussion Papers No. 5680.Google Scholar
  14. Guellec, D., & van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, B. (2007). The economics of the European patent system. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harhoff, D. (2006). The battle for patent rights. In C. Peeters & B. van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie (Eds.), Economic and management perspectives on intellectual property rights. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  16. Harhoff, D. (2009). Economic Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Unified and Integrated European Patent Litigation System, Final Report. Tender No MARKT/2008/06/D.Google Scholar
  17. Heath, C., Henkel, J., & Reitzig, M. (2005). Patent indemnification rules and international legal comparison. Mimeo: Munich/Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  18. IP Campenhausen (2004). Patent nullity proceeding and cost of patent litigation, retrieved from Accessed at 1 July, 2008.
  19. Jaffe A., & Lerner J. (2004). Innovation and its discontents: How our broken patent system is endangering innovation and progress, and what to do about it.Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Keeling, D. T. (2003). Intellectual property rights in the EU law: free movement and competition law. Oxford: Oxford EC Law Library.Google Scholar
  21. Kyle, M. (2007). Strategic responses to parallel trade. NBER Working Paper No. 12968.Google Scholar
  22. Lerner, J. (1995). Patenting in the shadow of competitors. Journal of Law and Economics, 38(2), 463–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mes, P., & van der Groeben, G. (2007). Cross-border injunctions in patent infringement cases: Paradise lost? Building and enforcing Intellectual property value, 172–175.Google Scholar
  24. Quillen, C. (2006). Innovation and the US Patent system. Virginia Law and Business Review, 1(2), 207–237.Google Scholar
  25. Straus, J. (2000). Patent litigation in Europe—glimmer of hope? Present status and future perspectives. Journal of Law and Policy, 2, 403–428.Google Scholar
  26. Urbanchuk, G. J., & Tubridge, J. R. (2008). Patent damages: The European landscape. Journal of Intellectual Law and Practice, 3, 576–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, B. (2009). Lost property: The European patent system and why it doesn’t work. Brussels: Bruegel Blueprint Series.Google Scholar
  28. van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, B. (2010). The quality factor in patent systems. ECARES Working Paper, 2010-027.Google Scholar
  29. van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, B., & Mejer, M. (2009). The London Agreement and the cost of patenting in Europe. European Journal of Law and Economics, 29(2), 211–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malwina Mejer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Université libre de Bruxelles, Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)BrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.BruegelBrusselsBelgium

Personalised recommendations