As a consequence of the patent term harmonization introduced by TRIPS, the term of U.S. patents became contingent on how quickly the patents are granted. We find that patent applicants strategically responded to this change in incentives. In the pharmaceutical industry, narrower patents with less detailed descriptions allowed applicants to reduce the approval time by 10.8% (170 days). Also consistent with a ticking clock, we find a reduction in the use of continuations across all industries. Our results suggest that the patent term change created long-lasting efficiencies in the patent office.
Lemus, J., & Marshall, G. (Accepted/In press). When the clock starts ticking: Measuring strategic responses to TRIPS's patent term change. Research Policy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2018.02.008