, 88:787 | Cite as

Assessing the value of patent portfolios: an international country comparison

  • Torben SchubertEmail author


Patent counts have been extensionally used to measure the innovative capacities of countries. However, since economic values of patents may differ, simple patent counts may give misleading rankings, if the patents of one country are on average more valuable than those of another. In the literature several methods have been proposed, which shall adjust for these differences. However, often these do not possess a solid economic micro-foundation and therefore are often ad-hoc and arbitrary procedures. In this paper, we intend to present an adjustment method that is based on the analysis of renewal decisions. The method builds on the theoretical model used in Schankerman and Pakes (1986) and Besson (2008) but goes beyond both approaches in that it recovers the important long tail of the value distribution. It also transfers Besson’s (2008) econometric methodology (applicable to the organisational structures of the US Patent and Trademark Office) also to the European Patent Office which is necessary, since each application here may split up into several national patent documents. The analysis is performed for 22 countries. Exemplarily, we find that in the cohort of 1986 patent applications, Danish patents are about 60% more valuable than the average patent. German patents are a bit below average. Japanese patents are of least value. In the cohort of 1996, Danish patents lose some of their lead but are still more valuable than the average. While German are a bit above average, Japanese patents even fall further behind (possibly due to the economic downturn in since the mid of 1990ies).


Patent count Value Adjustment Renewal fees 



Financial project support of the German Expert Commission Research and Innovation for the work underlying this article is kindly acknowledged. Helpful comments on an earlier version of this article from the 10th EPO-PATSTAT Conference in Vienna are also acknowledged. I am grateful to Nicolai Mallig for the help that he provided on collecting the necessary patent data from the PATSTAT database. Lastly, I would also like to thank an anonymous referee for his valuable suggestions that helped to improve the article.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISIKarlsruheGermany
  2. 2.Chair of Innovation EconomicsTechnical UniversityBerlinGermany

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