Article | Research Policy | March 2011

Cheaper Patents

by Tom Nicholas


The 1883 Patents Act in Britain provides perspective for modern patent policy reforms because it radically changed incentives for inventors by reducing filing fees by 84 percent. Patents increased 2.5 fold after the reform, which was evenly distributed across the geography of inventors, the organization of invention and sectors. By realizing a large demand for cheaper patents the reform increased the propensity to patent and shifted inventive activity inside the patent system. It did not increase innovation as measured by changes in the distribution of high and low value patents and citations to English inventor patents in the United States.

Keywords: Patents; Global Range; Distribution; Demand and Consumers; Organizational Structure; Business Processes; Innovation and Invention; Innovation and Management; Policy; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Fluctuation; Motivation and Incentives; Distribution Industry; United States; Great Britain;


Nicholas, Tom. "Cheaper Patents." Research Policy 40, no. 2 (March 2011).