The NBER Patent Citations Data File: Lessons, Insights and Methodological Tools

76 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2002

See all articles by Bronwyn H. Hall

Bronwyn H. Hall

University of California at Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS); Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

Adam B. Jaffe

Brandeis University; Motu Economic and Public Policy Research; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Manuel Trajtenberg

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 2001

Abstract

This Paper describes the database on US patents that we have developed over the past decade, with the goal of making it widely accessible for research. We present main trends in US patenting over the last 30 years, including a variety of original measures constructed with citation data, such as backward and forward citation lags, indices of 'originality' and 'generality', self-citations, etc. Many of these measures exhibit interesting differences across the six main technological categories that we have developed (comprising Computers and Communications, Drugs and Medical, Electrical and Electronics, Chemical, Mechanical and Others), differences that call for further research. To stimulate such research, the entire database - about 3 million patents and 16 million citations - is now available on the NBER website. We discuss key issues that arise in the use of patent citations data, and suggest ways of addressing them. In particular, significant changes over time in the rate of patenting and in the number of citations made, as well as the inevitable truncation of the data, make it very hard to use the raw number of citations received by different patents directly in a meaningful way. To remedy this problem we suggest two alternative approaches: the fixed-effects approach involves scaling citations by the average citation count for a group of patents to which the patent of interest belongs; the quasi-structural approach attempts to distinguish the multiple effects on citation rates via econometric estimation.

Keywords: Patents, citations, data construction, truncation

JEL Classification: O30

Suggested Citation

Hall, Bronwyn H. and Jaffe, Adam B. and Trajtenberg, Manuel, The NBER Patent Citations Data File: Lessons, Insights and Methodological Tools (December 2001). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 3094, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=296162

Bronwyn H. Hall (Contact Author)

University of California at Berkeley ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

HOME PAGE: http://emlab.berkeley.edu/users/bhhall/index.html

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

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London, WC1E 7AE
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Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition

Marstallplatz 1
Munich, Bayern 80539
Germany

Adam B. Jaffe

Brandeis University ( email )

Waltham, MA 02454-9110
United States
781-736-2251 (Phone)
781-736-2263 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.brandeis.edu/global/people/faculty/jaff

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research ( email )

Level 1, 93 Cuba Street
P.O. Box 24390
Wellington, 6142
New Zealand

HOME PAGE: http://motu.org.nz

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Manuel Trajtenberg

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 39040
Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, 69978
Israel
+972 3640 9911 (Phone)
+972 3640 9908 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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