International patenting decisions: empirical evidence with Spanish firms

  • Pilar Beneito
  • María Engracia Rochina-Barrachina
  • Amparo Sanchis


This paper analyses the determinants of firms’ decisions to patent abroad. We use data spanning 2005–2013 of Spanish firms from PITEC, a panel database carried out by the INE (The National Statistics Institute). We focus on patenting firms and consider that firms’ decisions to apply for patents in foreign patent offices may be driven by two kinds of motivations: first, to exploit the patent in international markets where there is potential demand for the invention and, second, to protect the invention abroad when the quality of the invention is high enough. In the first case we refer to market-driven determinants and, in the second case, to innovation type-driven determinants. We empirically analyse these factors using information on firms’ sales in different geographic international markets, and also indicators of the quality and scope of the innovations. We distinguish among EPO, USPTO and PTC patents, and estimate, first, a multivariate probit model to determine the factors underlying the decision to apply for patents in these foreign offices. Second, we estimate a multivariate model to explain the shares of patent applications in each one of the offices.


International patenting Market-driven determinants Innovation type-driven determinants Firm-level data Multivariate models 

JEL Classification

D22 C30 O34 



We are grateful for the constructive comments from two anonymous reviewers and from the Journal invited editors. We also thank useful comments and suggestions received from participants at the XXXI Jornadas de Economía Industrial (Pamplona, Spain, 2017). This work was supported by the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad [ECO2014-55745-R and ECO2017-86793-R]; Fundación-BBVA, Programa de Ayudas a Proyectos de Investigación en Socioeconomía, 2014; and Generalitat Valenciana [PROMETEOII/2014/054]. Usual disclaimer applies.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Análisis EconómicoUniversity of Valencia and ERICESValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Estructura EconómicaUniversity of Valencia and ERICESValenciaSpain

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