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New study: The influence of the amount of inventors on patent quality


When measuring patent quality, different indicators are taken into account. An indicator is measurable information that can be found in the bibliographic data of a patent directly or in combination with other, non-patent bibliographic data (hybrid indicator)[1]. In literature some patent quality-related indicators have been introduced, i.e. the amount of foreign patents citing a certain patent (forward citations or “cited-by”), the family size, the amount of oppositions[2], the duration from application to grant, the backward citation or the amount of claims[3][4].


All these indicators are taking external facts into account that become measurable after a patent has been filed and published. The core influence factor on a patent – the inventor – is investigated quite rarely. Within regional studies, by example, the inventive productivity was measured by counting number and quality of inventions by a set of frequent applying inventors[5]. Also a kind of “inventor-quality” has been focused with respect to the scientific degree of inventors by measuring the non-patent publications of an inventor in order to derive a patent quality by highly scientifically active inventors[6]. Also the direct environment and innovative community inventors are in, was investigated [7].


Inventions are done by one or a group of inventors. The main question for this study was “how does the size of the inventor- team affect the qualitatively output of the invention?” – there are different theses that should be investigated, proved or disproved by doing this study:


1st single inventor-inventions are side inventions

2nd the more inventors are involved with an invention the higher the R&D Budget, the higher the quality or

3rd the bigger the size of inventor team, the more inefficient the lower the patent quality

4th effective inventor-teams have a typical size.




Within the study the size of inventor teams was measured statistically and correlated with other patent quality indicators. Example: How often were patents cited, that were invented by one inventor or a certain set of inventors. By correlating the inventor-team size with indicators that are known from literature to be value relevant, it is possible to derive an additional indicator by the inventor-team size. So the inventor-team size was correlated first to the family size second to the forward citations[8] and third to a combined set of quality indicators, in order to verify that a certain size of inventor groups is not only correlated to just one single phenomenon (i.e. the more inventors, the bigger the family) but with a higher patent quality in general.


Within the study different distributions were analysed in order to determine representative or statistical relevant groups. Then the different groups were compared in order to see differences. Example, the top 10% were compared to the worst 10%, the top 20% to the worst 20%. By comparing different groups, it is possible to see if a certain significance is given and if, what determines the significance.


Additionally, deviations were done in order to better identify differences that may be difficult to see in a direct comparison of groups. 


Within the study over 25 million worldwide alive patents have been considered.


You can read the full text of this study here: http://media.intracomgroup.de/Inventors_per_invention_2017-04.pdf






[1] Levitt, J. M., & Thelwall M. (2011). A combined bibliometric indicator to predict article impact. Information Processing & Management. (47.2), 300–308..


[2] Harhoff, D., Scherer, F. M., & Vopel, K. (2003). Citations, family size, opposition and the value of patent rights. Research policy : a journal devoted to research policy, research management and planning, 32(8), 1343–1363.


[3] Lanjouw, J. O., & Schankerman, M. (1999). The quality of ideas: Measuring innovation with multiple indicators. NBER working paper. Cambridge [US]: National Bureau of Economic Research.


[4] Squicciarini, M., Dernis, H., & Criscuolo, C. (2013). Measuring patent quality: Indicators of technological and economic value. OECD science, technology and industry working papers: 2013/03. Paris: OECD.


[5] Schettino, F., Sterlacchini, A., & Venturini, F. (2013). Inventive productivity and patent quality: Evidence from Italian inventors. Journal of policy modeling : JPMOD ; a social science forum of world issues, 35(6), 1043–1056.


[6] Breschi, S., & Catalini, C. (2010). Tracing the links between science and technology: An exploratory analysis of scientists' and inventors' networks. Research policy : policy and management studies of science, technology and innovation, 39(1), 14–26.


[7] Giuri, P., Mariani, M., Brusoni, S., Crespi, G., & Francoz, D. (2007). Inventors and invention processes in Europe: Results from the PatVal-EU survey. Research policy : a journal devoted to research policy, research management and planning, 36(8), 1107–1127.


[8] Harhoff, D., Scherer, F. M., & Vopel, K. (2003). Citations, family size, opposition and the value of patent rights. Research policy : a journal devoted to research policy, research management and planning, 32(8), 1343–1363.



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