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A Penny for Your Quotes: Patent Citations and the Value of Innovations

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  • Manuel Trajtenberg

Abstract

The use of patents in economic research has been seriously hindered by the fact that patents vary enormously in their importance or value, and hence, simple patent counts cannot be informative about innovative output. The purpose of this article is to put forward patent counts weighted by citations as indicators of the value of innovations, thereby overcoming the limitations of simple counts. The empirical analysis of a particular innovation (Computed Tomography scanners) indeed shows a close association between citation-based patent indices and independent measures of the social value of innovations in that field. Moreover, the weighting scheme appears to be nonlinear (increasing) in the number of citations, implying that the informational content of citations rises at the margin. As in previous studies, simple patent counts are found to be highly correlated with contemporaneous R&D; however, here the association is within a field over time rather than cross-sectional.

Suggested Citation

  • Manuel Trajtenberg, 1990. "A Penny for Your Quotes: Patent Citations and the Value of Innovations," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 172-187, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:21:y:1990:i:spring:p:172-187
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