, Volume 112, Issue 2, pp 817–850 | Cite as

Tracking patent transfers in different European countries: methods and a first application to medical technologies

  • Laurie Ciaramella
  • Catalina MartínezEmail author
  • Yann Ménière


Drawing on more than half a million granted patents in all technological sectors filed at EPO between 1998 and 2012 we gather information on 300,000 inscriptions affecting changes in their ownership at the EPO and top national registers (France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain). After grouping parallel legal events in different European validation countries, we find that more than 30% of EPO patents in all fields change ownership at least once. For the field of medical technologies, we exploit additional information on corporate structures to further distinguish between “intragroup” and “bare” changes of ownership thanks. Our results indicate that more than two-thirds of the transfers happen “intragroup”, that is between related corporate entities. Using regressions analyses, we finally explore and discuss relations between the occurrence and types of these transfers of patent and proxies for patent quality.


Patent Patent trade Technology markets Medical technologies 

JEL Classification

O3 O5 



We would like to thank Stéphane Maraut, who provided expert programming assistance throughout the project, as well as Laurence Joly, Emmanuelle Fortune, Franck Dazin, Hélène Dernis, Gerardo Penas, Stefano Bianchini and Teodosio Pérez Amaral, as well as two anonymous referees, for their comments and suggestions. The paper also benefitted from comments from participants at the 2015 IPSDM Conference held in Vienna; the 2016 JMA and AFSE conferences in France; the meetings of the Mines-Telecom Chair on “IP and Markets for Technology” and the 2016 EPIP conference in Oxford. Financial support from the French Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle (INPI) is gratefully acknowledged. Catalina Martínez acknowledges additional funding from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness National Plan for R&D&I (CSO2012-32844) and the regional government of Madrid (S2015/HUM-3491).


Yann Ménière is currently on leave from Mines-ParisTech to serve as the Chief Economist of the European Patent Office. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the European Patent Office.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European Patent OfficeMunichGermany
  2. 2.MINES ParisTech, PSL Research UniversityCERNA - Centre for industrial economics, i3, CNRSParisFrance
  3. 3.CSIC Institute of Public Goods and Policies, IPPMadridSpain

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