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Applicant and examiner citations in U.S. patents: An overview and analysis

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  • Alcácer, Juan
  • Gittelman, Michelle
  • Sampat, Bhaven
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    Abstract

    Prior art patent citations have become a popular measure of patent quality and knowledge flow between firms. Interpreting these measurements is complicated, in some cases, because prior art citations are added by patent examiners as well as by patent applicants. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) adopted new reporting procedures in 2001, making it possible to measure examiner and applicant citations separately for the first time. We analyzed prior art citations listed in all U.S. patents granted in 2001-2003, and found that examiners played a significant role in identifying prior art, adding 63% of citations on the average patent, and all citations on 40% of patents granted. An analysis of variance found that firm-specific variables explain most of the variation in examiner-citation shares. Using multivariate regression, we found that foreign applicants to the USPTO had the highest proportion of citations added by examiners. High-volume patent applicants had a greater proportion of examiner citations, and a substantial number of firms won patents without listing a single applicant citation. In terms of technology, we found higher examiner shares among patents in electronics, communications, and computer-related fields. Taken together, our findings suggest that firm-level patenting practices, particularly among high-volume applicants, have a strong influence on citation data and merit additional research.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (March)
    Pages: 415-427

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:38:y:2009:i:2:p:415-427

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/respol

    Related research

    Keywords: Technology Patents Patent examiners Prior art Citations;

    References

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    1. Leslie E. Papke & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 1993. "Econometric Methods for Fractional Response Variables with an Application to 401(k) Plan Participation Rates," NBER Technical Working Papers 0147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Lerner, Josh, 1995. "Patenting in the Shadow of Competitors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 463-95, October.
    3. Popp David & Juhl Ted & Johnson Daniel K.N., 2004. "Time In Purgatory: Examining the Grant Lag for U.S. Patent Applications," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-45, November.
    4. Schneider, Cédric, 2007. "The Determinants of Patent Applications Outcomes - Does Experience Matter?," MPRA Paper 3359, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Manuel Trajtenberg & Adam B. Jaffe & Michael S. Fogarty, 2000. "Knowledge Spillovers and Patent Citations: Evidence from a Survey of Inventors," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 215-218, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Byeongwoo KANG & MOTOHASHI Kazuyuki, 2012. "Determinants of Essential Intellectual Property Rights for Wireless Communications Standards: Manufacturing firms vs. non-manufacturing patentees," Discussion papers 12042, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    2. McNamee, Robert C., 2013. "Can’t see the forest for the leaves: Similarity and distance measures for hierarchical taxonomies with a patent classification example," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 855-873.
    3. Joëlle Noailly & Victoria Shestalova, 2013. "Knowledge spillovers from renewable energy technologies, Lessons from patent citations," CPB Discussion Paper 262, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    4. Tan, David & Roberts, Peter W., 2010. "Categorical coherence, classification volatility and examiner-added citations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 89-102, February.
    5. Atal, Vidya & Bar, Talia, 2010. "Prior art: To search or not to search," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 507-521, September.
    6. Cotropia, Christopher A. & Lemley, Mark A. & Sampat, Bhaven, 2013. "Do applicant patent citations matter?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 844-854.

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