Patent Boxes and the Success Rate of Applications

Ryan Hynes (University College Dublin)
Ronald Davies (University College Dublin)
Dieter Kogler (University College Dublin)

Abstract

Patent boxes significantly reduce the corporate tax rate applied to income earned from a patent. This incentivizes firms to increase the likelihood of a patent application being
granted by creating more novel research and using more successful legal representation when filing the application. Conversely, it supports submitting applications for marginally novel innovations that otherwise would not have been submitted, lowering the probability of success.

We use data from applications to the European Patent Office from 1978 to 2019 and find that the introduction of a patent box increases the average success rate of applications from large, corporate innovators by 6.9 percentage points. This impact only materializes two years after a patent box takes effect, suggesting that improved research effort is the dominant response by firms. Therefore patent boxes may help to increase innovation novelty and improve the overall quality of research.

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