Flawed survey erroneously concludes patent licensing does not contribute to innovation

Recently Professor Robin Feldman (UC Hastings Law) and Professor Mark Lemley (Standord Law) published a working paper titled Does Patent Licensing Mean Innovation? The study reaches a conclusion that patent licensing does not lead to new innovation. In order to reach this conclusion Professors Feldman and Lemly rely on 188 survey responses from “people who actually engage in negotiating patent licenses.” The point of the survey was “to see whether the deals they strike lead to new products or to technology transfer or other markers of innovation.”

The paper’s abstract explains:

A commonly offered justification for patent trolls or non-practicing entities (NPEs) is that they serve as a middleman facilitating innovation, bringing new technology from inventors to those who can implement it. We survey those involved in patent licensing to see how often patent licenses actually led to innovation or technology transfer. We find that very few patent licenses from assertion actually lead to new innovation; most are simply about paying for the freedom to keep doing what the licensee was already doing. Surprisingly, this is true not only of NPE licenses but even of licenses from product-producing companies and universities. Our results cast significant doubt on one common justification for patent rights.

There are a variety of problems with this paper, the conclusions reached and the methodology. Perhaps the largest problem is that Professors Feldman and Lemley rely on subjective evidence rather than volumes of objective evidence that contradict the self-serving responses from those who are licensing rights they are already infringing. As troubling as that is it is hardly the only problem with the draft article. The paper is fundamentally flawed on many levels and can only be expected to mislead decision makers by giving unjustified cover to those who want to dismantle the patent system. Despite the obvious flaws there is no doubt that this draft paper will be misused as part of the ongoing debate over patent reform.

First, it seems peculiar to frame the question as whether licenses in the face of an infringement allegation lead to new innovation. Stating the question about whether patent licensing leads to “new innovation” seems to almost intentionally miss the entire justification for having a patent system in the first place. The very phrasing of the question suggests a bias, and a failure to appreciate the reality that issued patents represent an innovation in the first place. Therefore, despite what Professors Feldman and Lemley conclude, it is hardly surprising that licenses entered into when the licensee faces allegations of patent infringement do not result in new innovation. The entire point is that the patent owner believes, usually with very good reason, that their rights have been trampled and an innovation misappropriated.


This is extremely problematic because the paper and survey both seem to forget that patents provide an exclusive right, which grants the owner of the patent the right to exclude others. When there is an infringement the innovation has already been seized away from the rightful owner without payment or permission. To cloak the question about whether a license to settle an infringement allegation leads to “new innovation” misses the point entirely. The new innovation was represented in the patent rights that were infringed by a tortfeasor in the first place.

By pointing out that in the case of infringement there has been a misappropriation of an innovation I am not suggesting that there aren’t nefarious actors in the industry, or that those people shouldn’t be called patent trolls. There is evil in the industry, but when there is infringement it is perfectly accurate to say that a once new innovation has been misappropriated by someone without permission. To somehow suggest that the question should be about whether the infringer has the ability to further innovate puts a ridiculous burden on the patent owner and misses the point of the quid pro quo completely. In exchange for disclosure patent owners get exclusive rights, which last for an extremely limited time. In the overwhelming number of cases patents fall into the public domain either after 4 or 8 years. If a patent is infringed during the finite window of exclusivity the infringer is taking what the patent owner has already innovated. The fact that the infringer has to pay for taking what belongs to another is hardly a revolutionary concept.

Frankly, in many circumstances the infringer has taken the innovation from the original innovator because they themselves have long since lost the ability to innovate. The Wall Street Journal has addressed the innovation slowdown in Silicon Valley and pointed out that once high-flying innovators rely on purchasing the innovations of others because they themselves are simply not innovating anymore. The fact that large corporations cannot innovate is hardly shocking. Innovation overwhelmingly happens in start-up companies and small businesses, in research labs and universities. When a company gets too large they lose the ability to innovate because they are no longer nimble and their corporate structure simply doesn’t support innovation. There are too many layers between a potentially promising innovation and the visionary who can green-light the project. This is precisely why large tech companies buy smaller, nimble, exciting, innovative companies. Cisco has long done this, so to has Apple, Google, Facebook, Oracle and virtually every large pharmaceutical company and biotechnology company.

It is ridiculous to suggest that the patent system has a licensing problem because large infringers aren’t able to innovate after they have infringed valid patent rights. With very few exceptions (i.e., IBM, Qualcomm, for example) large entities don’t innovate any more. That is why they infringe in the first place.

Unbelievable. Business Concept.Further, despite what Professors Feldman and Lemley say, it is hardly surprising that those who have been complaining that they are not allowed to infringe with impunity would answer the survey the way they did. What else would you suspect from a homogenous subset of individuals who collectively don’t like the patent system very much? Collective bias seems a far more likely answer as to why there is “near unanimity,” as the Professors claim.

Additionally, where is the intellectual curiosity? Anytime there is unanimity or near unanimity significant questions need to be asked. How is it possible that any group could ever achieve near unanimity about anything? The fact that there was near unanimity demands one to question whether there is a bias or flaw in the survey, yet no such inquiry seems to have been made.

Remember, less than 36% of America watches the Super Bowl, about half of the people in the U.S. do not file or are not counted on a federal income tax filing, only 79% of Americans know that the earth revolves around the sun and only 76% of Americans know that we achieved our independence from the England/Great Britain/UK. See Gallup poll. 100% is never achievable, yet in several instances 99+ percent of respondents agreed. We laugh at Banana Republic elections where a dictator receives 90+ percent of the vote, but it is somehow academically acceptable to assume that 99% of people could agree legitimately on anything, let alone something as nuanced and complex as patent litigation and licensing? In some cases there was 100% agreement in this survey. Clearly, either the survey is flawed, the sample is biased, or both.

One of the biggest problems I have with this draft article is the reliance on a subjective survey as objective evidence. This is particularly alarming given that irrefutable objective evidence directly contradicts the survey results and conclusions reached.

To say that Universities do not transfer technology as part of licensing is simply not true. It is a complete and utter fabrication. The numerous joint ventures between universities and the private sector are irrefutable proof that directly contradicts any sentiment expressed in a self serving, subjective survey of a homogenous group. In addition to numerous joint ventures there have been more than 10,000 university start-ups built on technology developed at universities. Indeed, between 1980 and 2011 there 8,778 new companies established to develop and market university technologies. In fiscal year 2012 alone there were 705 start-ups formed to commercialize university developed technologies, and in fiscal year 2013 alone there were another 818 start-ups formed.

Are we supposed to believe that those 10,000+ start-up companies built on licensed university technology didn’t innovate? Apparently so. If only Professors Feldman and Lemley had cross checked their subjective survey results against objective data they would have discovered that in FY 2012 alone 591 new commercial products were created using university technology, and another 719 new commercial products were created in FY 2013.

Clearly, the claim that university licensing of patents does not result in innovation is false. Yet, the draft paper states:

When universities initiated the contact through licensing requests, however, indirect markers of innovation were largely absent. Little, if any, transfer of knowledge or transfer of personnel occurred, including consulting agreements, nor were joint ventures created.

At the very least this and other passages are horribly misleading in light of the fact that licensed university technology has resulted in over 10,000 start-ups being formed and many thousands of new commercial products created. But what hair are Feldman and Lemley trying to split to justify the conclusion that university licensing results in no innovation? It is unclear, but the tone of the article is striking. Feldman and Lemley openly admit to relying on anecdotes. Indeed, the above passage cites to a previous work by Professor Lemley who says that he is repeatedly told that “universities are the new patent trolls,” and that “university licensing is increasingly about freedom to operate rather than actual technology transfer.” To be fair, neither Professors Feldman or Lemley say this is true, they merely report that is what they have heard anecdotally. Of course, such a statement would have to be based on anecdotes because they are simply false.

Of course, it is nonsensical to even suggest that universities are patent trolls in the first place. In May 2014, I interviewed Jane Muir, who at the time was President of AUTM and is the Director of Technology Transfer at the University of Florida. Muir explained in great detail exactly why it is pure nonsense to consider universities patent trolls. She pointed out, the overwhelming majority of troll cases are confined to the software field, which is not an area universities do not typically focus research efforts. Universities primarily focus on life sciences, such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, which is not an area of trolling.  She would go on to tell me:

The universities are not the next patent troll because at the end of the day, university tech transfer offices were put into place to ensure that the new discoveries that happen in the research laboratories ultimately get out into the marketplace by way of product and services that improve the human condition. The big difference is with patent trolls. They’re not interested in commercializing discoveries. They’re interested in using those patents to sue legitimate companies who do want to move those products into the market. From the commercialization standpoint that really is the fundamental difference. Patent trolls have no real interest in commercializing. Their interest is in litigating.

It is also correct to point out that universities engage in the most basic, foundational scientific research. The entirety of the system is set up based on the correct premise that for-profit corporations who have to answer to shareholders cannot, will not and do not engage in speculative scientific research. University research is foundational by its very nature. To suggest there is no transfer of technology that supports new innovation is simply false and contradicted by volumes of evidence. For example, it is widely known that pharmaceutical companies rely on university research and breakthroughs. Further, prior to Bayh-Dole being enacted zero drugs were commercialized from underlying university research. Since Bayh-Dole there have been over 150 new drugs reach the market that are directly related to university research. See TheRole of Public-Sector Research in the Discovery of Drugs and Vaccines, The New England Journal of Medicine, February 10, 2011.

The following is a small list of important innovations that were invented and then commercialized under the Bayh-Dole act: (1) drugs to treat breast cancer; (2) Hepatitis B vaccine; (3) synthetic penicillin; (4) cysplatin and carboplatin (cancer therapies); (5) human growth hormone; (6) treatment for Crohn’s disease; (7) avian flu vaccine; and (8) countless clean water technologies. Furthermore, Bayh-Dole is responsible for countless green-technologies, such as the lithium ion battery, biomass gasifier that produces clean synthetic gas for electricity and heating, pesticide-free methods to eradicate bed bugs and revolutionary nanomaterials for the solar industry. See Bayh-Dole Makes Everyday Earth Day.

So the objective evidence available tells a significantly different story than the one told by Professors Feldman and Lemley and their survey respondents. So why prefer anecdotes and subject surveys of a biased set of individuals over objective data? It’s not as if the objective data is difficult to obtain or claimed to be proprietary. The failure to rely on or even mention volumes of objective data that tells a completely different story is hard to reconcile.

Finally, another significant problem is that the article and survey ignore the very real predicament facing innovator companies that are driven from the market by large companies that infringe. This isn’t about new innovation or tax collecting, as Professors Feldman and Lemley say, rather it is about those who innovate and then have their rights trampled, ultimately finding themselves being pushed out of business. Those original innovators are small companies and individuals, they are university based start-ups and research laboratories. What about them?

Lawyers for large companies laugh gleefully at conferences when they explain they just throw away any licensing inquiry or notice letter they receive. They are too busy to deal with anything unless you sue them, in which case they will complain that you sued them without trying to talk to them first, even if they threw away your letter. But put the hypocrisy aside. It is well known that many of the monetizers who are most often vilified are asserting rights on behalf of those original innovators who are laughed at and pushed out of the marketplace. Without partnering with large monetizers, or selling their portfolios to those large monetizers, those original innovators who spend the time, money and energy to create new innovations would simply watch others make money trespassing on their rights. These large infringers thrive while the original innovators go out of business, file for bankruptcy and gain no benefit whatsoever.

This issues are far more complicated than those who want to destroy the patent system want to make it. To base any decision on a subjective survey seems unwise. To base any decision on a subjective survey that contradicts substantial objective evidence seems wholly unjustified, if not completely preposterous. This draft article and survey can only be expected to mislead those not intimately familiar with the industry. It lacks any legitimate foundation in reality and should be completely ignored.


Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com.

Join the Discussion

21 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Ron Katznelson]
    Ron Katznelson
    April 11, 2015 06:04 pm

    See my compendium of detailed analyses of fundamental flaws surrounding data and methods used in eight commonly cited studies purported to document harms due to “patent trolls.” It is summarized and linked to at http://patentlyo.com/patent/2015/04/challenged-federal-information.html.

  • [Avatar for Tope]
    April 11, 2015 02:13 pm

    Mr. Gene

    I have been conducting a research on the exact topic the professors wrote on. I like to thank you for the eye opener.

    Additionally I like to kindly request that you or any of your informed colleagues mails me relevant materials which would aid my research.

    [email protected] is my email.


  • [Avatar for Mike Lloyd]
    Mike Lloyd
    March 3, 2015 04:58 pm

    I had a look at this. The question asked by Feldman and Lemley to companies forced to take licences was more or less ‘ did the license bring you other benefits?’ and the majority of the 188 respondents said ‘no’. However this applies to licensing ‘after the fact’, i.e. once the alleged infringing product had been commercialised.

    There is a second question about the proactive transfer of patents and associated know-how (i.e. technology transfer) from inventors and universities to start-ups, other companies etc, to help create new products. There appears to be plenty of anecdotal evidence that this occurs and leads to great products and companies – which is a very good thing. But this is a different question to approaching companies after they have independently developed a technology.

    So to some extent all perspectives discussed in the article and in the blog above and even the comments are valid – because they are different perspectives coming from different angles.

    This is not to knock the rights of inventors and patent holders, only to make the observation that ‘after the fact’ licensing does not, in the mind of licensees, lead to new innovation. If someone can find data relating to ‘after the fact’ licensees where this led to additional innovation, they should publish or quote this (although designing around granted IP is also a form of valid and I would suggest important innovation – I see my clients [and their competitors!] do this all of the time ).

    The licensing-in managers were asked, and this is what they answered. But they are only one part of the patent system, and the patent system needs to be designed to take a range of different perspectives into account.

  • [Avatar for Ron Katznelson]
    Ron Katznelson
    February 24, 2015 02:46 pm

    See further analysis: “Biased Findings on Patent Licensing Belie Clear Empirical Evidence” at

  • [Avatar for Michael Gulliford]
    Michael Gulliford
    February 24, 2015 09:21 am

    Very small and likely skewed sample size to be drawing major conclusions from. Borders on irresponsible. We have a number of clients (start-ups) whose primary technology is enabled by licenses, and we’re just one entity. But when you limit your sample size to companies with in-house lawyers, you automatically exclude most smaller companies and limit yourself to only larger entities that no longer rely on in-licensing to get products developed/off the ground.

  • [Avatar for Simon Elliott]
    Simon Elliott
    February 23, 2015 03:40 pm

    The sample is biased. A license to a patent is already a very narrow right that you get only because is blocks you. So, of course, it makes sense that such a license only lets you do what you were going to do. By comparison joint development agreements, which also concern patents, are likely to be pro-innovation.

    I think they have asked the wrong question: its not whether there was more innovation after a license, but whether there would have been less innovation without a license.

  • [Avatar for Anon2]
    February 23, 2015 02:47 pm

    The cause of innovation is the expenditure, by individual people, of creative mental labor, which is motivated, as is any form of labor or work, by the anticipation of profiting from the fruits of ones own labor. Such profit is made possible by the existence of a market, whose goods are those intellectual products of innovation, whose value is protected by the existence of property rights thereto.

    Licensing is not and never was the cause of innovation but a natural consequence of a system which makes innovation possible.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 23, 2015 01:04 pm


    I think that you err in being too generous.

    The reason why problems are encountered is much more simpler – and much more devious.

    Different sets of people want the law to be different, to reflect different and perhaps incompatible views.

    I “get” that. I “get” that others will not view “having patents” as being a good thing. And I am fine with different people having different views on the matter. But how the law is shaped, whether that shaping is done “honestly” or through guile is another matter altogether.

    How we get there, the tactics that “We” use – and allow to be used – are much more “the problem.”

    Concepts in law have often lacked that concreteness, that tangibleness, that would allow things “to be measured.” Such lack of measurement is NOT a source of problems. Not, at least, the types of problems that can be dealt with if the competing philosophies are dealt with without the gamesmanship.

    Agreeing to disagree about philosophies driving different legal paradigms is one thing. The use of tactics of flawed studies, or in the case of the Wall Street Journal article, known errors that are advanced regardless of the known lack of veracity cannot be so casually ignored. These tactics should not be so casually ignored.

    Part of the problem of which is the focus of this thread is that “studies” are being undertaken and advanced with the hope of influencing the law that appear to lack basic objectivity. Shaping the law – as any attorney will tell you – is a serious matter. Attorneys are bound by special ethical rules because as a profession we are so closely bound with how the law is shaped. To know and understand this is the duty of every attorney. But knowing and understanding this, and then to watch as those who teach law seem to act with such utter disregard for the respect of the rule of law, well, that is what is reprehensible, at least, that is what is reprehensible in my eyes.

  • [Avatar for Brian]
    February 23, 2015 12:33 pm

    It’s hard to define ‘innovation’ as a concrete, tangible concept capable of being measured in a physical sense– I think this is largely why problems are encountered when studies like this are conducted.

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    February 23, 2015 09:53 am


    You say: “Licensing is the key to maximising the utilisation of innovative technology, and releasing resources for further innovation.”

    AMEN! Agree 100%. That is a great way to explain things, and completely consistent with the economic literature. Thanks!


  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    February 23, 2015 09:51 am


    You say: “Unfortunately what is posted here and on other similar sites, while thoughtful and thought provoking, is not sufficient.”

    I agree with you 100%. We need MUCH more. One of the problems I face is that those who have the best information will tell me things in confidence and then not want to go on the record or even let me write about their situation or what they have told me without referencing them. I hear over and over that given the anti-patent climate people want to try and fly under the radar screen and not wind up a target of the massive PR campaign employed against patent owners.

    Those in the industry know that these articles, studies and surveys are biased and misleading (if not completely false). We know because we see what is happening, but without the facts to support the narrative we are left to write about what we know without the story.

    Economists like Bob Litan and Hal Singer have recently helped with their patent licensing study, AUTM provides excellent information about universities, but stories need to be told about the small businesses and independent inventors and start-ups that get pushed around and have their innovations taken.

  • [Avatar for Anon2]
    February 23, 2015 09:48 am

    I suppose there is a twin study of whether the ability of the Mob to manufacture automobile’s is positively affected by holding them liable for stealing cars.

    Surely, if a Mob boss has to pay damages for cars he has stolen, this cannot be said to increase his ability to manufacture automobiles. Such proves the system is broken.

    Civil action for theft is in dire need of “reform”.

  • [Avatar for Kate]
    February 23, 2015 09:30 am

    There is a mass of academic literature that is biased and misleading – studies designed and interpreted with insufficient understanding how patents are leveraged, how the patent system works – studies starting from biased views and questions. This is just one more example. The academics who produce this literature often view IP practitioners, those who use the system, innovators, lawyers and patent agents included as driven by their own financial interests and on this basis dis regard their views.
    I looked recently to find a systematic review of evidence (not surveys or opinions) showing positive or negative impacts of the patent system and could not find one such peer-reviewed article. Wouldn’t this be a logical starting point for any academic researcher this area? I suspect that if such reviews are rare – it is because most academics understand that such an exercise would not support their strongly held views and positions. As a community, I believe we need to contribute to the research agenda and to support academics (those who are open to it) in pursuing better research questions and measures that can more accurately characterize how IP rights are being leveraged and the impacts of this on innovation in different areas. One way of countering this ‘misinformation’ is to ensure that there is a body of research and peer-reviewed literature that proactively provides a more balanced view of these issues. Unfortunately what is posted here and on other similar sites, while thoughtful and thought provoking, is not sufficient.

  • [Avatar for Benny]
    February 23, 2015 09:01 am

    I think I found your problem. Let me quote from the article:
    ” Trolls, aka “non-practicing entities” (NPEs) or “patent assertion entities” (PAEs), are individuals or businesses that do not make any products and make their money from licensing or asserting patents against those who do”.

    Well that’s wrong, as NPEs and trolls are not one and the same. The article makes more sense as long as it is taken as referring only to PAEs who neither innovate nor produce but merely buy and sell IP like second-hand car dealers.

  • [Avatar for Mark Summerfield]
    Mark Summerfield
    February 23, 2015 03:10 am

    One problem with many studies of “innovation” is that the term itself is rarely defined sensibly. I regard innovation as encompassing an entire process from the early stages of research, through invention (which may result in patent rights) to the eventual production of a commercial product. Regarded in this way, it is clear that licensing and transfer of University research outcomes results in more innovation – the private sector partners are executing the steps of the process that are outside the scope of the universities’ activities. This may, or may not, involve further invention, but it definitely increases innovation.

    The second point I want to raise is that, even if Feldman and Lemley have their facts right, they reach the wrong conclusion. The problem they actually identify is the inefficiency within the innovation system that results from the “infringers” failing to seek out and acquire (eg license-in) existing technology rather than expending limited resources reinventing the wheel.

    Licensing is the key to maximising the utilisation of innovative technology, and releasing resources for further innovation. The fact that this “innovation market” does not currently operate efficiently is well-recognised, and there are people working on (innovative) solutions. Presenting licensing in a negative light, as if it is universally some sort of legalised protection racket, is not going to assist the cause.

    And it is disingenuous and self-serving.


  • [Avatar for Curious]
    February 22, 2015 06:56 pm

    Lemley is someone that I have considered to be a hack for a long time. I have little faith that someone who got his undergraduate degree in Economics and Political Science can understand the nuances of patent law as applied to science & technology. Although I have never heard of her before, it appears that Ms. Feldman’s undergraduate degree is in International Relations.

    They, IMHO, epitomize the notion of the ivory tower intellectual whose opinions aren’t derived from hardcore experience.

    I doubt either of them every counseled a small client with a patent portfolio being infringed by a large player in the market. Neither of them has had to wade through the morass of the USPTO in order to acquire IP rights for their client.

    We find that very few patent licenses from assertion actually lead to new innovation; most are simply about paying for the freedom to keep doing what the licensee was already doing
    Well duh … if you are asserting a patent, it means that the other side is (allegedly) already practicing the invention. Either they are really ignorant about the process or they are intentionally gaming their questions to obtain a finding that supposedly supports their (pre-defined) conclusion. My money is on the latter.

    This isn’t academic work — this is propaganda.

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    February 22, 2015 05:23 pm


    The reason we need to pay attention to these types of articles is because they drive the PR machine for those companies that want to destroy the patent system. That in turn means that Members of Congress and Staffers hear these opinions and faux studies and believe them.

    What we really need is for every patent attorney to write a letter to their Representative and Senators explaining with facts the reality of the industry. All too often I hear from those working the Hill that Staff will say “that is the first time we have ever heard that.” While it might be tempting to disbelieve that it is perfectly correct to notice that they are inundated by the anti-patent PR campaigns.

    The truth can win, but it won’t be easy (which is a sad statement in and of itself).


  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 22, 2015 04:45 pm

    Feldman is one of the worst academic hacks out there, often pushing demonstrably false drivel like this in order to curry favor with the anti-patent companies whose cash she relies up for her ridiculous “institute.” A disgrace to my alma mater.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 22, 2015 03:21 pm

    Sadly JNG,

    These same people are the ones “educating” new attorneys, who enter the profession largely believing (and paying attention) to the fallacies.

  • [Avatar for JNG]
    February 22, 2015 01:41 pm

    Why does anyone pay attention to anything these faux academics publish? Lemley is Google’s attorney and promotes their agenda, which is unabashedly anti-patent. Feldman’s research group is sponsored by multiple organizations that are avowed anti-patent. These folks hide behind the “professor” label to falsely denote some kind of objective goal, criteria and methodology.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    February 22, 2015 12:17 pm

    I know that I am not the first – and hopefully will not be the last – to call for increased level (let alone any?) of a sense of ethical responsibility for those involved in the conducting and publishing of such articles as the ones at issue here.

    It appears that operating under the cloak of “academics” that one can publish (and advocate, as that is surely what is being done here) ANYTHING that one wants to do.

    Advocates (read that as attorneys sworn to the model code of professional behavior) simply are not ethically free to so engage the justice system.

    Those who should know better – those teaching about law – thus should be held to a higher standard, and not an non-existent one.

    That writings such as this (and another example being the zombie “Troll” costs fallacy that was recently trotted out once again in the Wall Street Journal article, see https://ipwatchdog.com/2015/02/17/patent-reformers-resort-to-misrepresentations-in-wsj-op-ed/ ).

    There is a very real battle of the mind going on in patent law. Is it too much to ask that the level of ethics to be applied to the participants in that battle reflect the station of the participants?