Intellectual Property Data Update

Research using intellectual property administrative records continues to advance at a brisk pace with some really exciting new developments. I'll give a couple of updates from very different strands of activity that I am aware of. I doubt I am doing anyone full justice in my summaries, but hopefully you will explore further!

Most interestingly from my perspective are some of the work happening at the OECD and other venues which is trying to bring trademark and copyright filings into the discussion. Patent data have been the dominant source for researchers for some time, largely due to its easy availability and efforts by folks like NBER to make new versions of the data easily available. 

While still very early, this work has potential to open up new means of using these other types of IP to understand innovations which might not be as technical but more process oriented. I saw some of this work presented last week at the OECD as an update to this working paper but there appears to be a lot of other opportunities to look into this topic

Now, since trademarks are more common they appear to be even more messy than patents when it comes to attempting to do matches, etc. 

Thus, I am still cautious in my reading of some of these findings because the match rates are not strong and some of the data which the OECD is matching too is least representative or accurate for small and new businesses. We want more types of businesses in our samples than just those that patent but things get complicated quickly once doing so. It will take some time for scholars to figure out good means of making sense of some of this chaos. 

I am booked with other activities during Global Entrepreneurship Week, but if I weren't I'd love to attend "Patent Statistics for Decision Makers 2010." Interesting agenda which seems to offer a broad overview of some leading areas of patent-based research from the U.S., European Union, and others. 

The last year has seen the proliferation of economists within patent offices. I think this will be a good thing. Indeed, the U.S. PTO snagged one of our best academics - Stuart Graham (read background docs on their emerging research strategy) — to be their first Chief Economist and I learned last week the United Kingdom has also hired someone. So, seems to be the potential for a lot of change in this area if only because new ideas and resources are flowing in. 

Lastly, I want to point to some work from Grid Thoma (and others I am not entirely positive). It's a new dataset on patenting firms in USPTO and EPO/PCT that has been disclosed for research purposes. This dataset covers the whole population of patent documents and allows a user to query directly the patenters in the business directories and link it with other complementary information such as firms demographics, financial statement, ownership information, etc. 

The dataset is accompanied by an extensive paper describing originating dataset, methodology, and software code used to create it. More information on data and paper can be found at With so many versions of patent data proliferating out there, I would love feedback from users of some of these data as to their strengths and weaknesses.

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