Patents and the Measurement of International Competitiveness

Patents and the Measurement of International Competitiveness

New Data on the Use of Patents by Universities, Small Firms and Individual Inventors

William Kingston and Kevin Scally

This highly original book represents a major advance in the use of patents to compare countries’ technological competitiveness. It tabulates and analyses 280,000 United States patents from countries across the world over a ten year period. Specifically, these patents were granted to ‘not-for-profit’ entities (mainly universities and research institutes), firms with no more than 500 employees, or to individual inventors. For each of these groups, the book provides statistics and discussion on how long patents are kept in force, the extent to which they are cited, and how far inventions made in different countries are in fact owned in the United States.

Chapter 7: Summary and Conclusions

William Kingston and Kevin Scally

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of innovation, intellectual property, innovation and technology, economics of innovation, intellectual property


The general difficulties inherent in using patent counts to explore a country’s technological performance were discussed at the beginning of the book. The database prepared for this study avoids a number of these inherent problems through careful filtering of the data. In the first instance, the database contains only Utility patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the world’s largest and most active patent granting organisation. Further, it was based only on the Small Entity data supplied by that office (records of patent applicants who had claimed related patent fee remissions) for the period 1994 to 2003. This basic dataset was further refined by adding data concerning the payment of patent maintenance fees, assignee types, patent citations and Technology Class codes. The study is mainly focused on the OECD countries with the addition of Israel, together designated the ‘OECD*’ countries. Small Entity patent applications to the USPTO from countries outside this group of countries have been extremely low, with the major exception of Taiwan. For the purpose of useful comparison, the OECD* countries were arranged in three groups according to GDP, population and general economic standing. The non-OECD* countries were arranged in two further groups: Group D which is largely to do with Taiwan, and Group E. At all times it must be borne in mind that the first filtering criterion – application to a patent office outside the inventor’s jurisdiction – does not apply to the United States itself and also...

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