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The size of patent categories: USPTO 1976-2006

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  • Lafond, F.

    (UNU-MERIT)

Abstract

Categorization is an important phenomenon in science and society, and classification systems reflect the mesoscale organization of knowledge. The Yule-Simon-Naranan model, which assumes exponential growth of the number of categories and exponential growth of individual categories predicts a power law Pareto size distribution, and a power law size-rank relation Zipfs law. However, the size distribution of patent subclasses departs from a pure power law, and is shown to be closer to a shifted power law. At a higher aggregation level patent classes, the rank-size relation deviates even more from a pure power law, and is shown to be closer to a generalized beta curve. These patterns can be explained by assuming a shifted exponential growth of individual categories to obtain a shifted power law size distribution for subclasses, and by assuming an asymmetric logistic growth of the number of categories to obtain a generalized beta size-rank relationship for classes. This may suggest a shift towards incremental more than radical innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Lafond, F., 2014. "The size of patent categories: USPTO 1976-2006," MERIT Working Papers 2014-060, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  • Handle: RePEc:unm:unumer:2014060
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Birgitte Andersen, 1999. "The hunt for S-shaped growth paths in technological innovation: a patent study," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 487-526.
    2. Pier P. Saviotti, 1996. "Technological Evolution, Variety and the Economy," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 727.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Innovation; R&D; Learning; Knowledge; Classification; Categorization; Pareto distribution; Power law;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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