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The Use and Misuse of Patent Data: Issues for Corporate Finance and Beyond

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  • Josh Lerner
  • Amit Seru

Abstract

Patents and citations are powerful tools for understanding innovative activity inside the firm, and are increasingly use in corporate finance research. But due to the complexities of patent data collection and the changing spatial and industry composition of innovative firms, biases may be introduced. We highlight several patent-level biases induced by truncation of reported patent awards and citations, affecting estimates of time trends and patterns across technology classes and regions. We then introduce measures of patent and citation biases. When aggregated at the firm level, these survive popular methods of adjustment and are correlated with firm-level characteristics. We show that these issues can lead to problematic – and ex ante predictable – inferences, using several examples from prominent streams of finance literature that use patent data. We suggest a number of concrete steps that researchers can employ to avoid biased inferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Josh Lerner & Amit Seru, 2017. "The Use and Misuse of Patent Data: Issues for Corporate Finance and Beyond," NBER Working Papers 24053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24053
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    Cited by:

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    2. Ullah, Barkat, 2021. "Does innovation explain the performance gap between privatized and private firms?," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 113(C).
    3. Becker, Bo & Ivashina, Victoria, 2019. "Disruption and Credit Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 13508, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Stephen G. Dimmock & Jiekun Huang & Scott J. Weisbenner, 2019. "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your High-Skilled Labor: H-1B Lottery Outcomes and Entrepreneurial Success," NBER Working Papers 26392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Francis, Bill B. & Kim, Incheol & Wang, Bin & Zhang, Zhengyi, 2018. "Labor law and innovation revisited," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 1-15.
    6. Valacchi, Giulia & Doytch, Nadia & Yonzan, Nishant, 2021. "Impact of outward foreign direct investments on patent activity of Greenfield multinationals," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 173(C).
    7. Wehrheim, David & Dalay, Hakkı Doğan & Fosfuri, Andrea & Helmers, Christian, 2020. "How mixed ownership affects decision making in turbulent times: Evidence from the digital revolution in telecommunications," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    8. Zhang, Xiaoqian & Yu, Mingqiang & Chen, Gaoquan, 2020. "Does mixed-ownership reform improve SOEs' innovation? Evidence from state ownership," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).
    9. Mann, William, 2018. "Creditor rights and innovation: Evidence from patent collateral," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(1), pages 25-47.
    10. Tania Babina & Sabrina T. Howell, 2018. "Entrepreneurial Spillovers from Corporate R&D," NBER Working Papers 25360, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Pian Shu & Claudia Steinwender, 2019. "The Impact of Trade Liberalization on Firm Productivity and Innovation," Innovation Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 39-68.
    12. Moshirian, Fariborz & Tian, Xuan & Zhang, Bohui & Zhang, Wenrui, 2021. "Stock market liberalization and innovation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 139(3), pages 985-1014.
    13. Kempf, Elisabeth & Spalt, Oliver G., 2020. "Litigating Innovation: Evidence from Securities Class Action Lawsuits," CEPR Discussion Papers 14358, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Griffin, Paul A. & Hong, Hyun A. & Ryou, Ji Woo, 2018. "Corporate innovative efficiency: Evidence of effects on credit ratings," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 352-373.
    15. Benjamin Balsmeier & Lee Fleming & Matt Marx & Seungryul Ryan Shin, 2020. "Skilled Human Capital and High-Growth Entrepreneurship: Evidence from Inventor Inflows," NBER Working Papers 27605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Xia Pan & Yuning Gao & Dong Guo & Wenyin Cheng, 2020. "Does Higher Education Promote Firm Innovation in China?," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(18), pages 1-14, September.
    17. Kim, Jinhwan & Valentine, Kristen, 2021. "The innovation consequences of mandatory patent disclosures," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2).
    18. Brav, Alon & Jiang, Wei & Ma, Song & Tian, Xuan, 2018. "How does hedge fund activism reshape corporate innovation?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(2), pages 237-264.
    19. Enrico Forti & Serena Morricone & Federico Munari, 0. "Litigation risks and firms innovation dynamics after the IPO," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 0, pages 1-23.
    20. Ito, Keiko & Ikeuchi, Kenta & Daiko, Taro, 2021. "Global knowledge flow and Japanese multinational firms’ offshore R&D allocation and innovation," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C).
    21. Emerson G. Escolar & Yasuaki Hiraoka & Mitsuru Igami & Yasin Ozcan, 2019. "Mapping Firms' Locations in Technological Space: A Topological Analysis of Patent Statistics," Papers 1909.00257, arXiv.org, revised Oct 2021.
    22. Taalbi, Josef, 2019. "Innovation waves and technological transitions: Sweden, 1909-2016," Lund Papers in Economic History 196, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
    23. Cao, Xiaping & Cumming, Douglas & Zhou, Sili, 2020. "State ownership and corporate innovative efficiency," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C).
    24. Chen, Jiyao & Shao, Diana & Fan, Shaokun, 2021. "Destabilization and consolidation: Conceptualizing, measuring, and validating the dual characteristics of technology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(1).
    25. Rosiello, Alessandro & Maleki, Ali, 2021. "A dynamic multi-sector analysis of technological catch-up: The impact of technology cycle times, knowledge base complexity and variety," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(3).

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    JEL classification:

    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • 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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