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Incentives to researchers to increase patent applications

According to Constance E. Bagley, Winning Legally: How to Use the Law to Create Value, Marshall Resources, and Manage Risks (Harv. Bus. School Press 2005) at 122, Hewlett-Packard wanted to increase its patent applications 50 to 150 percent over the two years ending October 2004 (See my post of Aug. 3, 2005 on Microsoft boosting its patents by 50%.) To achieve that increase, H-P “offered employees $175 for each patent idea submitted on an invention disclosure form and $1,750 for each formal patent application.” The company also gave commemorative plaques.

Bagley continues. “Some firms offer stock options for each patent filed or issued, and 3Com Corporation gives each business unit a share of the licensing fees their patents produce.”

The patent lawyers in a company will face much more work if companies give such incentives. Additionally, the rewards might lead to a dilution of quality, and thus more work by the lawyers.

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