Valuable Patents

Intellectual Property and Patents

Article Snapshot


John R. Allison, Mark Lemley, Kimberly A. Moore and R. Derek Trunkey


Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 92, p. 435, 2004; George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 03-31; UC Berkeley Public Law Research


This paper describes patents their holders consider valuable.

Policy Relevance

Policymakers should consider differences between patents issued in different industrial sectors, such as mechanical, chemical, or computer-related patents to improve patent policy.

Main Points

  • Patents that have been litigated are valuable to their holders. Many other patents are filed and forgotten; some might be valuable and not litigated.


  • Litigated patents are different from patents in general, having:
    • More claims.
    • More prior art citations.
    • Younger patent holders.
    • Membership in “families” of issued patents.
    • A more complex examination process.


  • Patents issued to individuals or small firms are more likely to be litigated than those issued to big firms.
    • Perhaps small entities invent more.
    • Perhaps small entities sue more.


  • Mechanical, computer, and medical device-related patents are much more likely to be litigated than chemical or semi-conductor related patents. Policymakers should consider sector-specific patent policy.

Get The Article

Find the full article online

Search for Full Article