Measuring Patent Quality in International Comparison

Elisabeth Müeller (German Graduate School of Management and Law) & Philipp Boeing, “Measuring Patent Quality in International Comparison”

Patents filed through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) offer international protection and increase in global relevance with China ranked third in terms of applications. However, national technological performance should account for the quality of patent applications. We derive an index of patent quality that is based on citations from international search reports (ISRs) of PCT applications and not influenced by national economic policies, allowing for cross-country quality comparison. Our analysis indicates that China’s rapid PCT expansion took place to the detriment of quality and the gap to the national technological performance of the leading USA increases after quality adjustment. Our index not only provides an internationally comparable measure of PCT quality but also improves economic analysis, as it offers easily implementable and reliable monitoring of national technological performances.