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Monday, 28 November 2011

Katonomics 4: Where to look for an IP-oriented economist

Hector saw something twitching in the tall grass ahead:
"it might just be an economist", he thought to himself ...
It would be a conceit to suggest that the term 'Katonomics' needs no explanation -- but at least it's starting to throw up a decent score when you feed the word into a search engine. Anyway, as regular readers are probably fed up with being reminded, it's the title of a mini-series on IP economics for IPKat readers, the vast majority of whom are not (yet) economists.

This series is brought to you by the IPKat's own Katonomist, Nicola Searle, who gives economic theory a break this week and turns to a fresh topic. The question is "Where do you look for economists?" and the answer is "Right where they can do the most damage good -- in Intellectual :Property Offices!".

Nicola starts with a disclaimer. This piece is not written entirely by her, having been co-authored by an economist at an IP office who, for the sake of his professional reputation -- if  not his personal safety -- prefers to remain anonymous. They write:
"They’re here … Economists in IP Offices

With the USPTO appointing its first Chief Economist only last year, WIPO publishing its first-ever economics paper, and the expansion of economic teams elsewhere, it looks like IP economics offices are in vogue. Given the push for evidence-based policy an increase in economists, analysts and statisticians in government IP offices would seem logical. For this post, we’re taking a look at economists in IP offices throughout the world.

While these economic teams are part of public institutions, their growth and nature isn’t obvious, so I recruited an unnamed IP office economist to help [actually, says Merpel, the economist does have a name, but took it out of commission-- a bit like Prince].  This is not an exhaustive overview, but we found 10 Chief Economist Offices and 10 offices with an interest in economics: and we’re sure we have missed some, so please feel free to add to this in the comments or email the IPKat here with the subject line "Missing Economists".

The actual count of economists is tricky as many economic research functions are performed by a combination of economists, statisticians and analysts. The economic work falls into two general categories: internal evaluations and policy research. Internal evaluations include managing performance of the office and forecasting demand for services such as patent applications. Policy research includes the evidence-based analysis we discussed last week. The use of commissioned, external researchers to conduct policy research is common. As a rough indicator, Europe and Latin America have six offices, each with a dedicated economics or analytical team, North America has three (out of three possibles), Asia has three and Austral-Asia has one.

Chief Economists 
The EPO was perhaps the first to open a Chief Economist office back in 2004, then headed by Dominique Guellec for two years, but he has since returned to the OECD. He was followed by Bruno van Pottelsberghe from 2005 to 2007, and more lately by Nikolaus Thumm -- who joined the EPO from the Swiss Patent Office (it looks like Nikolaus is due for a Wikipedia entry). As of January 2012, the EPO will have a new Economic and Scientific Advisory Board which will also look at economic issues. EPO economics work tends to be outsourced and the Chief Economist is the only active economist in the organisation.

The Canadian IPO was probably second to launch an office, transforming its performance management office into a Chief Economist office in 2006. At the time, the office was managed by Elias Collette who continues as the Chief Economist at the Canadian IP Office. His team of about five people is responsible for economics and performance management.

The UK IPO was likely third when it opened a chief economist office in 2008 but, due to there being only one economist, the work did not gain much traction. In October 2009, the IPO re-launched an economics unit by recruiting Tony Clayton, previously Director of Economic Analysis at the Office of National Statistics, and Benjamin Mitra-Kahn. The economics unit has since expanded to about ten members. The unit is very active, with a large research brief for both commissioned and in-house work.

Other recent economics teams include WIPO where Carsten Fink's Office of Chief Economist was created in 2010 and now has a team of about eight. The economics team is responsible for all of WIPO’s statistical reporting, economic research and performance management. The majority of its work is in-house, but commissioned research is used to create reports. WIPO has also hosted a regular meeting of IP office economists since May 2010; list of participants here.

The USPTO opened its office by hiring Stuart Graham in March 2010. The Chief Economist’s office has three full-time members and relies on exchanges with universities and various internal departments to complement its staff.

In France, Laurence Joly has been the economist with the National Institute of Industrial Property since 2007. Her offices commission research projects and manages the “Observatoire de la propriete intellectuelle”.

OHIM announced the opening of their chief economists office in May 2011, appointing Nathan Wajsman -- who is responsible for Economics and performance statistics, with a team of four people.

In Brazil, the director of Institutional Partnership and Technological Information at the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), Sergio Paulino de Carvalho, is the lead economist at the office. INPI has a research academy, which includes economists, and also does a range of commissioned work.

The Chilean National Institute of Industrial Property (INAPI) has Luciano Cuervo Moraga, an economic advisor responsible for IP. The institute recently launched a one-year research programme with WIPO and Brazil which has added a second economist focusing on IP issues.

Switzerland opened its economics team in the mid 2000s, with Nikolaus Thumm as the Senior Economic Counsellor (now of the EPO) and Hansueli Stamm is now in that role.

Other offices

Australia is an interesting case where there is a Business Development Section with an economist interest in Directory of Strategy, Research & Ministerial Support, Geoff Sadlier. His team also has the responsibility to report performance management and support both a research institute which focuses on economics of IP and an advisory council.

The Chinese Patent Office (SIPO) has a statistics section which has done work on firm performance, and hosted a WIPO economics seminar back in 2009. Unfortunately, not much else was available on its current activities.

The Danish Patent Office has expanded its analytical unit in the last year but, like SIPO, the majority of its work is not in English, which may be good for some, but bad for our digestion.

Japan has a statistical section which is interested in performance management and statistics. The section tends to do most of its economics through a selection of Japanese academics and an external advisory board.

Like Japan, Korea has a small statistics function in the IP office and no economic capacity at the moment.

Some other names with economic interests

Argentina has Miguel Fralmenti, Head of the International Relations Unit, National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI).

Colombia has Laura Buendia Grigoriu, Head, Regulation Group, Superintendence of Industry and Commerce.

Mexico has Antonio Camacho Vargas, Director of Promotion and Technical Information Services, Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI).

Peru has Santiago Dávila Phillipon, Manager of Economic Studies, National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI).

Last, but not least, Uruguay has Alberto Gestal, National Director, National Directorate of Industrial Property (DNPI).

So, it looks like these days you can’t swing a Kat in an IP office without hitting an economist. However, I’m sure there are offices and people we’ve missed and would appreciate additions or corrections in the comments below".

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