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Inventive Productivity and Patent Quality: Evidence from Italian Inventors

Schettino, Francesco and Sterlacchini, Alessandro and Venturini, Francesco (2008): Inventive Productivity and Patent Quality: Evidence from Italian Inventors.

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By considering a regional sample of Italian inventors, this paper explores the factors behind the different individual performances in terms of number and quality of patents. Our reference population is composed of 570 inventors residing in the Marche region who, over the period 1991-2005, have contributed to 743 patent applications filed at the European Patent Office. Looking at the number of patents per inventor, a Lotka’s distribution emerges suggesting that also for geographical areas inventive activities are highly concentrated in a few key inventors. To examine whether both the inventive productivity and quality are affected by individual and firm characteristics, we use the outcomes of a survey on 106 inventors. We find that the patent productivity is not influenced by individual characteristics but it is higher for the inventors working in teams and employed in large firms with greater patent portfolios. With respect to patent value we employ a composite index in which forward citations, claims and patent families are taken into account. Measured in this way, patent quality is significantly associated, along with the presence of an inventive team, with a set of individual features such as the inventors’ experience and level of education. This suggests that inventions coming from individuals working in small firms or independently can be as valuable as those generated by inventors occupied in larger companies.

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