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Technological collaboration patterns in solar cell industry based on patent inventors and assignees analysis

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This study examines technological collaboration in the solar cell industry using the information of patent assignees and inventors as defined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Three different collaborative types, namely local (same city), domestic (different cities of the same country), and international collaboration, are discussed. The general status of solar cell patent collaborations, transforming trends of collaborative patterns, average numbers of assignees and inventors for three collaborative types, and international collaboration countries are studied. It is found that co-invented patents and co-assigned patents have both increased in numbers during the four decades studied, and that collaboration between technology owners is very low while the collaboration between inventors is active. Domestic collaboration is the main collaborative pattern for both assignee collaboration and inventor collaboration. The other two collaborative types show contrary trends: international collaboration has slowly risen in the past decades while local collaboration has dwindled. The US has the largest number of internationally collaborative patents worldwide, though such patents account for a low portion of total US patents. In contrast, China has a small total number of patents and internationally collaborative patents, however its international collaborative shares are higher. The international collaboration patents among countries are few. A co-assigned patent analysis indicates that the main international cooperation partner of the United States is Japan. Based on an international co-invented patent analysis, the main international collaboration partners of the United States are Britain, Japan, and Germany; and the United States is also the most important collaboration partner of China.

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Correspondence to Dar-Zen Chen.

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Lei, XP., Zhao, ZY., Zhang, X. et al. Technological collaboration patterns in solar cell industry based on patent inventors and assignees analysis. Scientometrics 96, 427–441 (2013).

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