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Uncovering GPTS with Patent Data

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  • Bronwyn H. Hall
  • Manuel Trajtenberg

Abstract

This paper asks the question: Can we see evidence of General Purpose Technologies in patent data? Using data on three million US patents granted between 1967 and 1999, and their citations received between 1975 and 2002, we construct a number of measures of GPTs, including generality, number of citations, and patent class growth, for patents themselves and for the patents that cite the patents. A selection of the top twenty patents in the tails of the distribution of several of these measures yields a set of mostly ICT technologies, of which the most important are those underlying transactions on the internet and object-oriented software. We conclude with a brief discussion of the problems we encountered in developing our measures and suggestions for future work in this area.

Suggested Citation

  • Bronwyn H. Hall & Manuel Trajtenberg, 2004. "Uncovering GPTS with Patent Data," NBER Working Papers 10901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10901
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bronwyn H. Hall, 2005. "Exploring the Patent Explosion," Springer Books, in: Albert N. Link & F. M. Scherer (ed.), Essays in Honor of Edwin Mansfield, pages 195-208, Springer.
    2. David, P.A., 1989. "Computer And Dynamo: The Modern Productivity Paradox In A Not-Too Distant Mirror," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 339, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    3. David, Paul A, 1990. "The Dynamo and the Computer: An Historical Perspective on the Modern Productivity Paradox," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 355-361, May.
    4. Paul A. David & Gavin Wright, 2005. "General Purpose Technologies and Productivity Surges: Historical Reflections on the Future of the ICT Revolution," Economic History 0502002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Bronwyn H. Hall, 2005. "A Note on the Bias in Herfindahl-Type Measures Based on Count Data," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 110(1), pages 149-156.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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