Overall, has your company made money from the patent system?

On August 7–8, 2007, I conducted a simple survey through Patently-O. [See Survey].  Readers were asked whether the patent system, taken as a whole, had been positive (made money) or negative (lost money) for their company.  The results below show the responses of 131 corporate employees who are all highly involved with their company patents.

The results here follow a predictable pattern: On average, pharmaceutical companies see patents as a profit center while software companies see patents as an overall loser.  (At 95%CI, Software & EE results each differ significantly from Pharm results).



  • Next time: Is this an important question?
  • The Survey [LINK]
  • Bessen & Meurer: Negative Return on the Patent System
  • On the process:
    • The above graph merges responses from small corporations with those from large corporations. It also excludes individuals at law firms, government entities, and educational institutions. 
    • Individuals responded to the question: “Overall, has your company made money from the patent system?”  There were three potential responses: “Clearly positive (made money”, “Unsure whether positive or negative”, and “Clearly negative (lost money).” For the graph above, these responses were converted to a simple numerical scale: 1, 0, and -1, respectively. The y-axis above ranges from -1 to 1.