Global Patent Chokepoints


A firm’s patent strategy is commonly focused on excluding competition in the domestic market. Foreign patent rights may be sought, but the presumption is that they are valuable for a firm only if it has access to a foreign market through sales, licensing or foreign direct investment. However, in countries that are major manufacturing bases and international exporters, like China and India, a new strategy may be emerging: seeking patents solely to impact competition in external markets. This Article describes this novel use of “global patent chokepoints” and presents empirical evidence that it is actually occurring. It considers patent filings in solar photovoltaics (PV) in China between 2002 and 2007 and demonstrates that the patent filings are responsive to increases in solar PV production by Chinese rivals but not Chinese domestic installation. If this strategy is more widely adopted, pricing and access impacts for important health and sustainability technologies may result.


Stanford University Stanford, California
  • Daniel R. Cahoy, Zhen Lei, Yuxi Meng & Seth Blumsack, Global Patent Chokepoints, 20 Stanford Technology Law Review 213 (2017).
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