Patent Quality: Towards a Systematic Framework for Analysis and Measurement

53 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2020 Last revised: 8 Feb 2021

See all articles by Kyle Higham

Kyle Higham

Hitotsubashi University - Institute of Innovation Research

Gaétan de Rassenfosse

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Adam B. Jaffe

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2021

Abstract

The 'quality' of novel technological innovations is extremely variable, and the ability to measure innovation quality is essential to sensible, evidence-based policy. Patents, an often vital precursor to a commercialised innovation, share this heterogeneous quality distribution. A pertinent question then arises: How should we define and measure patent quality? Accepting that different parties have different views of, and different sets of terminologies for discussing this concept, we take a multi-dimensional view of patent quality in this work. We first test the consistency of popular post-grant outcomes that are often used as patent quality measures. Finding these measures to be generally inconsistent, we then use a raft of patent indicators available at the time of grant to dissect the characteristics of different post-grant outcomes. We find broad disagreement in the relative importance of individual characteristics between outcomes and, further, significant variation of the same across technologies within outcomes. We conclude that measurement of patent quality is highly sensitive to both the observable outcome selected and the technology type. Our findings bear concrete implications for scholarly research using patent data and policy discussions about patent quality.

Keywords: patents, patent quality, patent value, patent citations, patent policy, technological impact

JEL Classification: O30, O34

Suggested Citation

Higham, Kyle and de Rassenfosse, Gaétan and Jaffe, Adam B., Patent Quality: Towards a Systematic Framework for Analysis and Measurement (February 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3697223 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3697223

Kyle Higham (Contact Author)

Hitotsubashi University - Institute of Innovation Research ( email )

2-1 Naka, Kunitachi
Tokyo, 186-8603
Japan

Gaétan De Rassenfosse

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne ( email )

Station 5
Odyssea 1.04
1015 Lausanne, CH-1015
Switzerland

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

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