From Open Warfare to Strawman’s Anonymity: Motives and Strategies Behind Patent Opposition at EPO

Prof. Dr. Rudi Bekkers, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

Patent opposition allows any firm to challenge the validity of newly granted patents. How- ever, initiating this procedure discloses strategic information to competitors that firms might want to avoid, particularly so whether the opponent firm is off the radar of its competitor. This creates a trade-off between the possibility to invalidate a competitor’s patent and the disclosure of valuable and strategic information. We study this trade-off by investigating the cases in which firms challenge competitor’s patent anonymously, engaging a “strawman”. Using a novel dataset of patents opposed at the European Patent Office (EPO) between 2000 and 2017, combined with firm-level information, we assess what drives a firm to engage in this strategy. We find that firms hide behind a strawman and anonymously attack patent owners to prevent signalling to the patent owner their interest in a field that is marginal to their core activity.


About the speaker

Rudi Bekkers is a Full Professor and Chair of Standardisation and Intellectual Property at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). Rudi’s research interests include questions on how standards can help to create valuable and well-functioning markets, on the strategic behavior of companies and organizations using patents and standards, and how institutional settings could be improved in order to serve the public benefit. In addition to domains where standards traditionally play an important role (telecommunications, consumer electronics, internet), his interests also extends to new areas where standards become increasingly important, such as sustainable mobility, smart grids, and the Internet of Things.  

Venue: 0.18, UNU-MERIT, Boschstraat 24, Maastricht

Date: 24 November 2022

Time: 12:30 - 13:30  CEST