New index measuring the strength of patent systems shapes the decision making and strategic responses of firms and policymakers

Impact Area: Patent Systems, Policy

Institution: University of Liverpool Management School

Leading Academic: Dr Nick Papageorgiadis


Firms and policymakers use indices that measure the strength of patent systems to inform their strategic decision making. However, these indices have received public criticism regarding their transparency, clarity, and objectivity. Dr Nikolaos Papageorgiadis has developed a new index that measures the strength of 51 national patent systems and has studied their effect on international business. Dr Papageorgiadis has engaged with a wide range of practitioners who have adopted and used this research. International Intellectual Property (IP) managers use this research to make their international patent filing strategies (IPFS) more efficient, and policymakers use it to benchmark and evaluate the quality of their country’s patent system.

Benefits and Impact

The preponderant patent index measures the availability of patent laws, but does not account for their enforcement. However, since there is a general convergence of patent legislation in World Trade Organisation countries, what differentiates them from one another is not the legislation itself but its enforcement. Consequently, Dr Papageorgiadis’ academic publication and regular update of the new index of Patent System Strengths (PSS) – focusing on enforcement – provides firms with the most pertinent information required in determining where to file their patents, and policymakers with the necessary findings to understand the relative strengths of their patent systems.

Dr Papageorgiadis has engaged extensively with businesses and policymakers to inform them about the PSS index and the associated research findings, using a mix of social media, the University of Liverpool website and a series of talks to expert patent practitioners to raise the profile of his work.

Impact 1: Firms using data to inform their international patent filing strategy decision-making

Firms develop an IPFS by selecting and applying key strategic country-level factors to screen and decide on the optimum number of countries where they will register and maintain their patents. The cost of patenting in one country is high, therefore the higher the number of countries selected to register and maintain a patent, the higher the costs. The strength of enforcement in a patent system is a key factor in the IPFS; however, firms struggle to find reliable index data to inform their decision-making. Existing indices have many limitations and firms have contacted Dr Papageorgiadis asking to use the PSS index to inform their decision-making. As a result, the PSS index is used to inform the practice of IP managers and patent attorneys from different countries. For example:

  1. IP Managers use the PSS index to inform their IPFS decision making. The use of the PSS index helps companies to decide where to patent or discontinue their patent filing activities.
  2. Patent attorneys use the index in their internally produced guides and booklets, to advise their customers (firms) on where to register and maintain their patents.
  3. Patent attorneys use the index in sales presentations, to convince foreign clients to file patents in their country.

The PSS index is now used by multiple IP managers and patent attorneys in nine countries internationally (Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Sweden, UK, USA) to inform the international patent filing strategy of their firms. For example, a medium sized biotechnology firm has used the PSS index to support its decision to discontinue its patenting activities in 2 European countries with weak patent systems, optimizing the IPFS of the firm and saving an average of 15000+ Euros over the lifetime of each patent that was to be filed and renewed in the two countries.

The international patent filing strategy of firms is confidential and the IP managers of firms do not wish to publicly share what informs their strategy and how they make their decisions. The author of the case has received confidential testimonials of the firms that use the PSS index and plans to use them in the submission of the case for the REF.

Impact 2: Policymakers evaluating the strength of their patent system using patent indices

Dr Papageorgiadis’ dissemination strategy informed policymakers about the PSS index and they used it to benchmark their country’s patent system. For example, the Australian Productivity Commission used the PSS index in their enquiry report on the Australian IP system. The PSS index confirmed that Australia has a strong patent system and supported policymakers in developing policies that aim to maintain and improve the country’s position.