The patent system and the medium-sized industry
The statistics of the German Patent Office reveal that the majority of patent applications are filed by small and medium-sized industries (SMI) or private inventors and so confirm the importance of this sector for the technological innovation. However, many SMI do not make full use of the possible protection patenting offers them, and the importance for SMI of exploiting the patent literature as a source of technical information has only recently been acknowledged. There are many possible explanations of this reticence on the part of SMI, a number of them are analysed in the article, together with the advantages of patent protection. It is concluded that the Patent Office ought to make an effort to make access to its stock of information easier and more effective.