This paper examines the distribution of the values of patent rights in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany during the post-1950 period. These values are inferred from the behavior of patentees with respect to payment of renewal fees on their patents. A simple economic model of renewal decisions is combined with data on the proportion of patents renewed at alternative ages and the renewal fee schedules to produce estimates of the distribution (and the total) value of patent rights in these countries. Moreover, the data indicate that there have been changes in the value distribution, and we follow these changes over the period. The empirical results of particular interest concern: the total value of patent rights and the relationship between changes in it and changes in the quantity of patents, the skew in the distribution of patent values, and the rate of obsolescence on the returns to patents
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