Academic patent licenses: Roadblocks or signposts for nonlicensee cumulative innovation?

Kyriakos Drivas, Zhen Lei, Brian D. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Academic inventions are key drivers of technical progress in modern economies, and exclusive licensing has become the dominant means of transfer to the private sector. However, the strong licensee incentives generated by exclusive academic licensing are generally assumed to come at the expense of discouragement or diversion of research by nonlicensees. Using data from university campuses and national research laboratories we find that, after exclusive licensing, forward citations by private sector nonlicensees actually increase. An unanticipated exclusive license appears to be a signpost pointing to commercially relevant innovation pathways that nonlicensees follow with successful patented research. Tests using multiple pre-license information disclosures support this signaling hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-303
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - May 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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