I noticed that most articles in economic journals avoid to visualize the scores of patent rights indexes. But doing so is quite helpful to understand how patentability, compulsory licensing and patent terms have changed over time.
The following graphs are based on the widely used patent rights index by Park and colleagues. This index is available for 122 countries over 55 years and consist of five main categories:
- coverage +
- membership +
- loss of rights +
- duration +
A country has high coverage, according to the index, if it grants patents for formerly unpatentable „technologies“:
- plant and animal varieties,
- surgical products,
- microorganisms, and
- utility models (somewhat problematic)
Park and colleagues assume that membership in the following international agreements generally equals higher protection:
Loss of Rights
An additional assumption of the index is that countries without (!) the following provisions provide higher protection to patent owners:
- working requirements
- compulsory licensing requirements
- straightout revocation
To determine whether the patent term in a given country is long or short, the index compares available years to the “appropriate maximal term of protection”. If a country allows 15 years of protection, but could have allowed 20, it receives a score of 0.75 (15 years/20 years).
Does country x make the following enforcement mechanisms available to patent owners?
- preliminary injunctions
- contributory infringements
- burden-of-proof reversals
The final index just sums up the scores across all five categories to get overall scores for each country.
Heatmaps are helpful to explore timeseries of individual countries over time. To be able to spot more general trends, I have also plotted yearly averages.
Code (+data) is available here: https://github.com/markushlang/patent_rights_index