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Sources of inspiration? Making sense of scientific references in patents

Author

Listed:
  • Julie Callaert

    () (KU Leuven
    KU Leuven)

  • Maikel Pellens

    (KU Leuven)

  • Bart Looy

    (KU Leuven
    KU Leuven
    University of Twente)

Abstract

Scientific references in patent documents can be used as indicators signaling science-technology interactions. Whether they reflect a direct ‘knowledge flow’ from science to technology is subject of debate. Based on 33 interviews with inventors at Belgian firms and knowledge-generating institutes active in nanotechnology, biotechnology and life sciences, we analyze the extent to which scientific references in patents reflect sources of inspiration. Our results indicate that scientific knowledge acts as a source of inspiration for about 50 % of the inventions. At the same time, the scientific references cited in patent documents and available in patent databases do not provide an accurate picture in this respect: 30 % of patents that were inspired by scientific knowledge do not contain any scientific references. Moreover, if scientific references are present, half of them are evaluated as unimportant or background information by the inventor. Overall, these observations provide evidence that scientific references in patent documents signal relatedness with the implied inventions without necessarily implying a direct, inspirational, knowledge flow between both activity realms.

Suggested Citation

  • Julie Callaert & Maikel Pellens & Bart Looy, 2014. "Sources of inspiration? Making sense of scientific references in patents," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 98(3), pages 1617-1629, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:scient:v:98:y:2014:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-013-1073-x
    DOI: 10.1007/s11192-013-1073-x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Masashi Shirabe, 2014. "Identifying SCI covered publications within non-patent references in U.S. utility patents," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 101(2), pages 999-1014, November.
    2. Ashish Arora & Sharon Belenzon & Honggi Lee, 2018. "Reversed citations and the localization of knowledge spillovers," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(3), pages 495-521.
    3. Leonardo Costa Ribeiro & Glenda Kruss & Gustavo Britto & Américo Tristão Bernardes & Eduardo Motta e Albuquerque, 2014. "A methodology for unveiling global innovation networks: patent citations as clues to cross border knowledge flows," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 101(1), pages 61-83, October.
    4. Ugo Rizzo & Nicolò Barbieri & Laura Ramaciotti & Demian Iannantuono, 2020. "The division of labour between academia and industry for the generation of radical inventions," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 45(2), pages 393-413, April.
    5. Joaquín M. Azagra-Caro & Elena M. Tur, 2018. "Examiner trust in applicants to the European Patent Office: country specificities," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 117(3), pages 1319-1348, December.
    6. Anthony F. J. Raan & Jos J. Winnink, 2018. "Do younger Sleeping Beauties prefer a technological prince?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 114(2), pages 701-717, February.
    7. Chul Lee & Gunno Park & Klaus Marhold & Jina Kang, 2017. "Top management team’s innovation-related characteristics and the firm’s explorative R&D: an analysis based on patent data," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 111(2), pages 639-663, May.
    8. Azagra-Caro,Joaquín M. & Tur,Elena M., 2014. "Examiner amendments to applications to the european patent office: Procedures, knowledge bases and country specificities," INGENIO (CSIC-UPV) Working Paper Series 201406, INGENIO (CSIC-UPV), revised 29 Nov 2018.
    9. Michaël Bikard & Matt Marx, 2020. "Bridging Academia and Industry: How Geographic Hubs Connect University Science and Corporate Technology," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(8), pages 3425-3443, August.
    10. Ke, Qing, 2020. "Technological impact of biomedical research: The role of basicness and novelty," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(7).
    11. Basse Mama, Houdou, 2018. "Nonlinear capital market payoffs to science-led innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(6), pages 1084-1095.
    12. Naomi Fukuzawa & Takanori Ida, 2016. "Science linkages between scientific articles and patents for leading scientists in the life and medical sciences field: the case of Japan," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 106(2), pages 629-644, February.
    13. Ke, Qing, 2018. "Comparing scientific and technological impact of biomedical research," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 706-717.
    14. Veugelers, Reinhilde & Wang, Jian, 2019. "Scientific novelty and technological impact," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(6), pages 1362-1372.
    15. Tahamtan, Iman & Bornmann, Lutz, 2018. "Creativity in science and the link to cited references: Is the creative potential of papers reflected in their cited references?," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 906-930.
    16. Tan Tran, 2020. "R&D and Knowledge Expertise of French Regions," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 2004, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Feb 2020.
    17. Du, Jian & Li, Peixin & Guo, Qianying & Tang, Xiaoli, 2019. "Measuring the knowledge translation and convergence in pharmaceutical innovation by funding-science-technology-innovation linkages analysis," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 132-148.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Non-patent references; Indicators; Science-technology interaction; Inventor interviews;

    JEL classification:

    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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