Financial Patenting in Europe

61 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2009 Last revised: 17 Mar 2021

See all articles by Bronwyn H. Hall

Bronwyn H. Hall

University of California at Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS); Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

Grid Thoma

University of Camerino

Salvatore Torrisi

Department of Economics, Management and Statistics; Bocconi University

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Date Written: February 2009


We take a first look at financial patents at the European Patent Office (EPO). As is the case at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the number of financial patents in Europe has increased significantly in parallel with significant changes in payment and financial systems. Scholars have argued that financial patents, like other business methods patents, have low value and are owned for strategic reasons rather than for protecting real inventions. We find that established firms in non-financial sectors with diversified patent portfolios own a large share of financial patents at the EPO. However, new specialized technology providers in the financial area also hold a number of such patents. Decisions on the financial patent applications take longer and they are more likely to be refused by the patent office, suggesting greater uncertainty over validity than for other patents. They are also more likely to be opposed, which is consistent with the fact that their other economic value indicators are higher.

Suggested Citation

Hall, Bronwyn H. and Thoma, Grid and Torrisi, Salvatore, Financial Patenting in Europe (February 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14714, Available at SSRN:

Bronwyn H. Hall (Contact Author)

University of California at Berkeley ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

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Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

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Grid Thoma

University of Camerino ( email )

School of Sciences and Technology
Computer Science Division
Camerino, Macerata 62032

Salvatore Torrisi

Department of Economics, Management and Statistics ( email )

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Milano, Milan 20126

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Bocconi University ( email )

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Milan, MI 20136

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