Tacit Knowledge and the Dynamics of Inventor Activity

Authors: Per Botolf Maurseth (BI Norwegian Business School) and Roger Svensson (IFN)

Abstract
The inventor generally knows more about the invention than what is written down in a patent application. Because of such tacit knowledge, it might be necessary that the inventor has an active role when the patent is commercialized. Here, we empirically analyze when inventor activity is important for a successful commercialization of patents by using a detailed patent database. The database has unique information on inventor activity, commercialization mode of the patent and profitability of commercialization. In the empirical estimations, we find that inventor activity is especially important for a successful commercialization when a patent is sold or licensed to another firm. When a patent is sold or licensed in a second phase, it is still inventor activity in the first phase that matters for profitability. Thus, our interpretation is that tacit knowledge and close cooperation between the inventors and the external firm are crucial for a successful commercialization of patents.

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