Patent Quality: Towards a Systematic Framework for Analysis and Measurement
53 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2020 Last revised: 8 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 2021
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: Suggested Citation