University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 16.3.2018: Two-tiered patent systems induce sorting (Heikkilä)

Start date: Mar 16, 2018 12:00 PM

End date: Mar 16, 2018 03:00 PM

Location: Seminaarinmäki, S212

Jussi HeikkiläM.Sc. Jussi Heikkilä defends his doctoral dissertation in Economics "Empirical Analyses of European Intellectual Property Rights Institutions". Opponent Associate Professor Aija Leiponen (Cornell University) and Custos Professor Ari Hyytinen (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.

Heikkilä studied in his dissertation European patent and second tier patent systems (“two-tiered patent systems”) and the use of design rights in a Finnish industry. The results show that firms and inventors self-select to apply patents and second tier patents for different types of inventions. Typically, utility models or other types of second tier patents are chosen, when there is need for quick protection or the invention is incremental.

Two-tiered patent systems induce sorting

Most prior patent studies have neglected second tier patents. Heikkilä’s findings indicate that second tier patents play a role in patenting strategies and they should be taken into account in future studies and evaluations of patent systems.

Second tier patents are not only a protection method for incremental inventions but they are also chosen when applicants require quick protection for their inventions. Classification of patent families with utility models reveals that majority of utility models are applied to protect inventions nationally but they are also used as part of international patenting strategies.

Agents learn the boundaries of uncertain intellectual property rights

Patents, second tier patents and design rights are not iron-clad protection methods but they give the right to try to exclude others from commercially using the protected invention (or design). Since the boundaries of intellectual property rights (IPRs) are uncertain, it is likely that agents form heterogeneous beliefs about them.

A case study of the use of design rights among Finnish sauna heater producers identifies situations which provide the agents with learning opportunities about the uncertain scopes of design rights. According to the observations, the agents may be prone to self-serving biases in the interpretation of the scope of IPRs. Hence, heterogeneous beliefs regarding uncertain design rights may foster entrepreneurial optimism and IPR conflicts between agents.

The harmonization of European IPR institutions progresses slowly

Goods should move freely in the European Single Market. However, unharmonized and complex national IPR systems may inhibit free-movement of goods. Several European countries have introduced utility model systems despite the lack of empirical evidence regarding their welfare effects. This trend was reversed in 2008 when the Netherlands abolished its two-tiered patent system. According to Heikkilä’s findings, the abolition did not lead to a significant constant decrease in national patent filings.

In the present complex IPR environment of the European Single Market, it is likely that small entities are in a weaker position to manage and utilize IPRs strategically in comparison to large firms.

The IPR awareness and know-how gap of small and inexperienced entities relative to large and experienced competitors could be decreased by making national IPR systems simpler. Providing objective, reliable and easily accessible information and statistics on IPR systems online would further promote general IPR awareness.

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Jussi Heikkilä,

Jussi Heikkilä received his master’s degree in Economics from the Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics (JSBE) in 2012. Since then he has been working as a grant researcher and in different positions at the JSBE. Before PhD studies, Heikkilä worked at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and at the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, Tekes. He was a visiting PhD researcher at UNU-MERIT in 2014 and at LUT Lahti in 2017. Heikkilä’s PhD studies were funded by JSBE, Yrjö Jahnsson foundation, OP Group Research Foundation and IPR University Center.

The dissertation was published in the Jyväskylä Studies in Business and Economics series, issue 185, Jyväskylä 2018, ISSN 1457-1986, ISBN 978-951-7374-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-951-7373-5 (print). An online version is available at


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Jussi Heikkilä
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