Stars and Comets: An Exploration of the Patent Universe

50 Pages Posted: 4 May 2011

See all articles by Carlo Menon

Carlo Menon

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry (STI); Bank of Italy

Date Written: January 12, 2011

Abstract

The analysis of patent and citation data has become a popular source of evidence on localized knowledge spillovers and innovation. Nevertheless, one aspect has been overlooked: the patent distribution across inventors is extremely skewed, as many inventors -- the comets -- register one or few patents, while a small number of inventors -- the stars -- register many patents. This raises a number of questions relating to the geography of innovation: do different categories of inventors interact with the local economic environment in the same way? Are they equally distributed over space or do they tend to concentrate? Is spatial proximity beneficial for their activity? Using a rich database on US inventors, we provide evidence suggesting that the two categories of patents are associated with different kinds of cities. We then test whether the activity of stars is beneficial for local comets, finding that a 10% increase in the number of patents authored by star inventors leads to a 3% increase in the number of patents developed by comet inventors.

Keywords: localized knowledge spillovers, patents, innovation

JEL Classification: R10, O31

Suggested Citation

Menon, Carlo, Stars and Comets: An Exploration of the Patent Universe (January 12, 2011). Bank of Italy Temi di Discussione (Working Paper) No. 784, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1828868 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1828868

Carlo Menon (Contact Author)

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry (STI) ( email )

Paris
France

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
00184 Roma
Italy

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