Scientific origins

PatentSight was founded in 2008 by Nils Omland as a spin-off from the WHU – Otto-Beisheim School of Management. Before founding PatentSight, Nils worked together with Prof. Dr. Holger Ernst for several years in the field of patent valuation and analytics. The pioneering thought leadership of Nils and Holger is expressed in ground-breaking, rewarded and highly-cited scientific publications.


Scientific Publications

Identifying Emerging Technologies with Smart Patent Indicators: The Example of Smart Houses

Author:                Guderian, C. 2019

Publication:        International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management

Keywords:         Emerging technologies, longitudinal data, patent analytics, smart houses, smart indicators, technological change, technological forecasting, technological foresight, technology intelligence


Patent information plays a key role in technology intelligence. As granted patent rights provide temporary exclusivity to commercialize inventions, emerging technologies are marked by brisk increases in patenting, revealing patent-based information as sources for corporate technology intelligence. In this paper, I analyze one such emerging technology, smart houses, which refers to connected and centrally controlled everyday household solutions. I provide a detailed technology landscape study that tracks longitudinal patenting changes in the technology during the 18-year period from 2000 to 2017.

Central to the analyses is the use of smart indicators and longitudinal annual data, allowing tracking changes over time. The analyses encompass general patenting trends in the technology of smart houses, including the detection of key players, pertinent technology class developments, and most relevant countries for the technology of smart houses.

The case study results indicate that the use of smart indicators and longitudinal data supplements established patent indicators in technology intelligence by providing additional insights to the emergence of new technologies that cannot be detected by conventional measures.

Managing knowledge in open innovation processes: an intellectual property perspective

Authors:              Bican, P., Guderian, C., Ringbeck, A. 2017

Publication:        Journal of Knowledge Management, 21(6), 1384-1405

Keywords:          Intellectual property, Knowledge management, Open innovation, Patents, Innovation process, Success drivers


As firms turn their innovation activities toward collaborating with external partners, they face additional challenges in managing their knowledge. While different modes of intellectual property right regimes are applied in closed innovation systems, there seems to be tension between the concepts of “open innovation” and “intellectual property rights”. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how firms best manage knowledge via intellectual property rights in open innovation processes.

Following a mixed methods approach, the authors review relevant literature at the intersection of knowledge management, intellectual property rights, strategic management of intellectual property rights and the open innovation process. The authors identify success drivers through the lenses of – but not limited to – intellectual property rights and classify them in five distinct groups. Expending the view on open innovation beyond its modus operandi, the authors develop the Open Innovation Life Cycle, covering three stages and three levels of the open innovation process. The authors apply their findings to a case study in the pharmaceutical industry.

The authors provide four key contributions. First, existing literature yields inconclusive results concerning the enabling or disabling function of intellectual property rights in open innovation processes, but the majority of scholars detect an ambivalent relation. Second, they identify and classify success drivers of successful knowledge management via intellectual property rights in open innovation processes. Third, they advance literature on open innovation beyond its modus operandi to include three stages and three levels. Fourth, they test their findings to a case study and show how management leverages knowledge by properly using intellectual property rights in open innovation.

The findings support firms in managing knowledge via intellectual property rights in open innovation processes. Management should account for the peculiarities of open innovation preparation and open innovation termination to prevent unintentional knowledge drain.

This is one of the first studies to view open innovation as a process beyond its modus operandi by considering the preparations for and termination of open innovation activities. It also addresses the levels involved in managing knowledge via intellectual property rights in open innovation from individual (personal) to project and firm level.


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Intellectual Property as a Management Discipline

Author:                Ernst, H. 2017

Publication:        Technology and Innovation, Vol. 19, pp. 481-492, 2017

Keywords:          Intellectual property, Patents; Management, Strategy, IP department


This paper illustrates the development of intellectual property (IP) as a management discipline over time. It starts by providing a brief historical overview of the role of IP in research and managerial practice. Changes that have caused the emergence of IP as a new discipline in management research and education are outlined subsequently.

After that, the paper introduces a new framework to strategically manage IP within the broader context of technology management. The framework highlights the new and upcoming strategic roles and tasks of the “IP function” within firms.

The paper concludes with a discussion of implications for the proficient management of IP in firms today and in the future, which stands in sharp contrast with how IP was valued and handled in many firms in the past.


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How to create commercial value from patents:

The role of patent managementDownload full text

Authors:              Ernst, H., Conley, J.G., Omland, N. 2016

Publication:        R&D Management

Keywords:          Capability, Patents, Performance, R&D, Strategy, Value 


This paper examines the relationship between patent management and indicators of a firm’s financial and patenting performance. The empirical analyses are based on a sample of 158 technology-based firms from the USA and Germany across multiple industries.

The results show that two important dimensions of patent management, specifically patent protection management and patent information management, are positively correlated with a firm’s level of financial profitability and the strategic and financial impact of its patent portfolio. This implies that patent protection and information management are important managerial capabilities of the firm that determine the level of value it can create from patents.

We further find that a firm’s technology strategy moderates the relationship between patent protection management and firm performance; it does, however, not moderate the relationship between patent information management and firm performance. Hence, the effectiveness of certain managerial capabilities on value creation from patents are contingent upon specific boundary conditions. Our findings have implications for improving firm performance by means of patent management.


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Integrating the R&D and Patent Functions:

Implications for New Product Performance

Authors:              Ernst, H., Fischer, M. 2014

Publication:        Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol. 31 (S1), pp. 118-132

Keywords:          New Product Development, Cross-functional Integration, Collaboration, Patent Department, R&D, Patents, Performance


This article examines the impact of cross-functional integration between the R&D and the patent functions on new product development (NPD) performance. The attitudinal (collaboration) and the behavioral (contributions of the patent function to NPD) dimension of cross-functional integration between the R&D and the patent functions are distinguished.

It is also investigated if the level of innovativeness moderates the relationship between the attitudinal and the behavioral dimension of cross-functional integration between the R&D and the patent department and NPD performance.
The four hypotheses are tested based on a multi-informant sample of 101 NPD projects which are nested within 72 technology-based firms or strategic business units from multiple industries in Germany.

The results show that the attitudinal and the behavioral dimensions of cross-functional integration between the R&D and the patent functions have a significant and positive impact on NPD performance. This lends empirical support for the notion expressed in the literature that certain managerial capabilities are important for understanding the effect of patenting on appropriability outcomes such as value creation and performance. The level of cross-functional integration between the patent and the R&D functions appears to be one of these critical patent management capabilities that affect the returns from investments into patents.

There is support for the hypothesis that the context matters for the effect of cross-functional integration between the R&D and the patent functions on NPD performance. In line with the initial hypothesis, the level of innovativeness positively moderates the impact of the behavioral dimension of cross-functional integration between the R&D and the patent department on NPD performance. In contrast to the initial hypothesis, the findings reveal no moderating effect of the level of innovativeness on the link between the attitudinal dimension of cross-functional integration between the R&D and the patent department and NPD performance. This implies that joint objectives and an open and trustful working relationship between the R&D and the patent functions are not sufficient for achieving higher NPD performance if firms aim to develop very innovative products.

In case of highly innovative products, the actual behavior, i.e. the specific contributions of the patent department to the NPD project, matters.
Overall, these findings have important implications for improving performance by means of effectively integrating the patent and the R&D functions during NPD.


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Die Patentabteilung als Motor des Technologiemanagements:

Bestandsaufnahme und Ausblick

Authors:              Ernst, H., 2014

Publication:        Schultz, C., Hölzle, K. (eds.), Motoren der Innovation Zukunftsperspektiven der Innovationsforschung. Festschrift zum 65. Geburtstag von Prof. Dr. Hans Georg Gemünden, S. 39-55


Gewerbliche Schutzrechte wie insbesondere Patente und Marken erfahren heutzutage eine wie zuvor noch nie dagewesene Aufmerksamkeit. Unternehmen in innovationsintensiven Industrien erkennen zunehmend die strategische Bedeutung von gewerblichen Schutzrechten, um Wettbewerbsvorteile zu erlangen und zu sichern sowie um zusätzliche Vermarktungsoptionen zu schaffen und zu realisieren.

Die funktionale Verantwortung für das Management gewerblicher Schutzrechte liegt bei Patent- oder IP- (Intellectual Property) Abteilungen. Es fällt auf, dass sich die betriebswirtschaftliche Forschung vereinzelt mit dem Management gewerblicher Schutzrechte beschäftigt, dabei die Rolle der Patentabteilung als betriebswirtschaftliche Funktion aber kaum systematisch beleuchtet wird.

In diesem Beitrag soll daher die Rolle der Patentabteilung unter betriebswirtschaftlichen Gesichtspunkten analysiert werden. Um eine Eingrenzung und einen inhaltlichen Fokus zu erreichen, beschränke ich mich hier auf das Technologiemanagement als relevanten, konzeptionellen Rahmen.

Es wird zunächst aufgezeigt, wie die Patentabteilung das Technologiemanagement konkret und aktiv gestalten kann. Dabei erfolgt zunächst eine Bestandsaufnahme, in dem die möglichen Beiträge der Patentabteilung für das Technologiemanagement aufgezeigt und strukturiert werden. Anschließend wird ein Ausblick auf zukünftige Forschungsthemen im Kontext der Patentabteilung und des Technologiemanagements gegeben.


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A Framework for the Strategic Management of Intellectual Property

Authors:              Conley, J.G., Bican, P., Ernst, H., 2013:

Publication:        California Management Review - Special Issue on Intellectual Property Management, Vol. 55, Nr. 4, pp. 102-120

Keywords:          Intellectual Property,Licensing, Brand Equity, Patents, Strategic Management, Marketing, Product Life Cycle, Case Method, Value Transference, Multiple Industries


This article introduces a framework that helps to assimilate intellectual property management activities with the practices of marketing and strategy.

With the framework, the management of IP rights is explained within marketing constructs such as the unique selling proposition. The article presents case studies that explore the applicability of the framework in a diversity of industry contexts and firm sizes.


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Improving retrieval results with discipline-specific query expansion

Authors:              Lüke, T.; Schaer, P.; Mayr, P. 2012

Publication:        Zaphiris, Panayiotis; Buchanan, Georg; et al. (Hrsg.): Theory and practice of digital libraries, Berlin, Springer, S. 408-413


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The Patent Asset Index - A New Approach to Benchmark Patent PortfoliosDownload full text

Authors:              Ernst, H., Omland, N. 2011

Publication:        World Patent Information, Vol. 33, pp. 34-41

Keywords:          Asset, benchmarking; scoreboard, innovation, patent asset index, patent, portfolio, ranking, research & development, technology, valuation


Patent metrics are increasingly used to assess the competitive position of technology-oriented firms. Patent rankings and patent scoreboards are popular methods to benchmark patent portfolios of firms against each other.

Existing rankings, however, have methodological limitations that significantly reduce the meaningfulness of these benchmarks for managers, investors and other stakeholders. In this paper, we develop a new benchmarking methodology that overcomes limitations of existing approaches and offers a more accurate assessment of a firm’s patent portfolio vis-à-vis its competitors.

Firms are ranked according to the Patent Asset Index, which is derived from a set of newly developed patent indicators. These indicators are empirically validated and reflect more accurately the value of patents. We apply the new benchmarking method in the global chemical industry and contrast our findings with those of other existing patent portfolio rankings.


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Valuing patents through indicators

Author:                 Omland, N. 2011

Publication:        Munari, F. and Oriani, R. (eds.): The Economic Valuation of Patents - Methods and Applications, pp. 169-201, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham


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Patent teaching kit

Author:                Omland, N. et al. 2009

Publication:        Created for and published by the European Patent Office.


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Evaluating the Risk of Patent Infringement by Means of Semantic Patent Analysis:

The Case of DNA-Chips

Authors:              Bergmann, I.; Butzke, D.; Walter, L.; Fürste, J-P.; Möhrle, M.G.; Erdmann, V. A. 2007

Publication:        The R&D Management Conference 2007, Risk and uncertainty in R&D management, Bremen, 4-6 July 2007


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Patent Portfolio Analysis as a Useful Tool for Identifying R&D and Business Opportunities

Authors:              Fabry, B., Ernst, H., Langholz, J., Kösters, M. 2006

Publication:        World Patent Information, Vol. 28, pp. 215-225

Keywords:          Patent portfolio, patent analysis, company acquisitions, patent licensing, infringement, dietary supplements


Computer aided patent portfolio analysis is a useful tool to evaluate both, the R&D landscape and business opportunities. All necessary patent data can be generated from publicly accessible data bases. Patent data allow conclusions about a firm’s patent activity and the quality of its patent portfolio.

Further, the international and technological scope of a company’s patent strategy can be assessed. This information is particularly interesting for the evaluation of a firm’s innovative potential. Besides, it allows to draw conclusions on the innovative dynamics of the considered market segment, in this case dietary supplements.

The results are shown in graphs and spider charts. In sum, we can make conclusions about the relative innovative power and patent strength of a company within the selected market segment. We draw conclusions on the importance of patents as a method of knowledge protection in this market and gather insights about the availability of companies that are potentially suitable for co-operations or acquisitions.


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Enhancing market-oriented R&D planning by integrated market and patent portfolios –

An empirical application in the chemical industry

Authors:              Ernst, H., Fabry, B., Soll J.H. 2004

Publication:        Journal of Business Chemistry, Vol. 1, Iss. 1, pp. 2-13


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Vitalization of Industry through the Regional Promotion of Knowledge Intensive New Firms:

The Case of German Biotechnology

Authors:              Ernst, H., Omland, N. 2004

Publication:        Journal of Innovation Management, No. 1 (Spring), pp. 61-75 (in Japanese)


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Patent Information for Strategic Technology ManagementDownload full text

Author:                Ernst, H. 2003

Publication:        World Patent Information, Vol. 25, Issue 3 , pp. 233-242

Keywords:          Patent information, Knowledge management, Strategic planning, Technology management, Patent quality, Patent portfolios, Technology share, Financial analysts


The information in patent data can be used for strategic planning purposes. A conceptual framework is developed showing the use of patent information in core areas of technology management.

This paper addresses how patent information can be used for competitor monitoring, technology assessment, R&D portfolio management, the identification and assessment of potential sources for the external generation of technological knowledge, especially by means of mergers and acquisitions, and human resource management. Indicators of patenting strategies and various portfolio concepts which can be used for these purposes are described.

Because of its strategic value, it is argued that the retrieval and evaluation of patent data should be institutionalized within the organization in order to ensure the continuous and systematic use of patent information in a company’s decision-making processes. How patent information becomes a core element of a firm’s knowledge management system is outlined.

This type of strategic patent information is geared toward two important recipients:

(1) senior management who uses this information for decision-making purposes in important areas of technology management and

(2) external stakeholders of the firm, such as shareholders and analysts, who have an increasing interest in assessing a firm’s technological competence because of its strong impact on the firms future competitiveness.   


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Patentmanagement junger Technologieunternehmen

Authors:              Ernst, H., Soll, J.H. 2003

Publication:        Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft, Ergänzungsheft 2/2003, S. 95-113


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An integrated portfolio approach  to support market-oriented R&D planning

Authors:              Ernst, H., Soll, J.H. 2003

Publication:        International Journal of Technology Management, Vol. 26 (5/6), pp. 540-560


Marketing and R&D strategies need  to be aligned  to increase  the  return from investment in new technologies. Various portfolio techniques have been widely used to support strategic planning.

In order to balance Marketing and R&D in the strategic planning process it is necessary to integrate different  portfolio  concepts.  A new portfolio approach integrating market and technology portfolio to support market-oriented R&D planning is developed.

The integrated portfolio is based on objective market and patent data and empirical evidence that the respective portfolio dimensions impact a company's business performance. This contributes significantly to the relevance of the proposed integrated portfolio approach for strategy planning. The integrated portfolio is tested in a practical application in the chemical industry.

Based on these experiences a set of recommendation for the effective use of the integrated portfolio for market-orientated strategic R&D planning are derived.


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Success Factors of New Product Development:

A Review of the Empirical Literature

Author:                Ernst, H. 2002

Publication:        International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 1-40


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Patent applications and subsequent changes of performance:

Evidence from time-series cross-section analyses on the firm level

Author:                Ernst, H. 2001

Publication:        Research Policy Vol. 30 (1), pp. 143-157


This article examines the relationship between patent applications and subsequent changes of company performance. Time-series cross-section data from 50 German machine tool manufacturers between 1984 and 1992 are used to perform panel analyses.

It is shown that national patent applications lead to sales increases with a time-lag of 2 to 3 years after the priority year. European patent applications, which are of higher quality than national patent applications, have an even higher impact on sales increases with a lag of 3 years after the priority year.

These results lend support to the use of patent data as an output indicator of R&D activities for business applications as well as empirical research.


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The Influence of Corporate Acquisitions on the Behaviour of Key Inventors

Authors:              Ernst, H., Vitt, J. 2000

Publication:        R&D Management, Vol 30 (2), pp. 105-119


The behavior of key inventors after the acquisition of their company is examined. Key inventors are identified on the basis of their patenting output. They account for a large number of their company’s high-quality patents.

The analysis of 43 acquisitions shows that key inventors leave to a substantial extent their company or the significantly reduce their patenting performance after the acquisition. Factors influencing the behavior of key inventors after acquisitions are identified.

Implications for the effective management of acquisitions as well as suggestions for further research are outlined.


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Inventors Are Not Alike:

The Distribution of Patenting Output Among Industrial R&D

Authors:              Ernst, H., Leptien, C., Vitt, J. 2000

Publication:        Personnel, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Vol. 47 (2), pp. 184-199


From theoretical work, as well as from empirical findings on the distribution of scientific performance, we can deduce that there are also great variations in the output of industrial research and development personnel.

By analyzing the patenting output from research and development personnel, we are able to· measure their technological performance. The inventor portfolio provides a method to measure and identify key inventors. Key inventors are characterized by a large number of patent applications which are of high quality.

This paper presents the results from an empirical study that analyzes the distribution of the patenting output of inventors working in the chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering industry in 43 German companies.

The findings of this study suggest that the technological performance of inventors defined by the number and quality of filed patents is highly concentrated. In particular, a very small group of key inventors is responsible for the major part of the company's technological performance, and thus for the company's competitiveness.

These findings, in turn, have major practical implications for human resource management in industrial R&D departments.


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Gains and pains from licensing -

Patent-portfolios as strategic weapons in the cardiac rhythm management industry

Authors:              Brockhoff, K., Ernst, H., Hundhausen, E., 1999

Publication:        Technovation, Vol. 19 (10), pp. 605-614


Because of the rapidly growing number of elderly people, products for the treatment of cardiac rhythm disorders (pacemakers) are a major part of the US $130 billion medical device market.

Since 1994 two US companies, Medtronic Inc. and St. Jude Medical Inc., have dominated the pacemaker segment. Very interestingly, the two competitors show substantially different developments of their financial performance.

This case study offers some answers to the question, what may have caused these developments? A review of the most recent history of the two companies, and a third player which is of particular interest, Siemens AG, shows that these companies have followed different strategies to achieve success in the pacemaker market. Since technological progress has been of prime importance in the pacemaker industry, patent analyses were conducted.

It is shown that a strong patent-portfolio can be an important strategic weapon in the pacemaker industry.


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Assessment of R&D Collaborations by Patent Data in the International Automotive Industry


Ernst, H., Teichert, T. 1999


Kocaoglu, D.F. und Anderson, T.R. (eds.), Technology and Innovation Management, PICMET’99 Proceedings, Portland, OR, pp. 78-86

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Industrial Research as a Source of Important Patents


Ernst, H. 1998


Research Policy, Vol. 27 (1), pp. 1-15. (Best Paper Award; Verband der Hochschullehrer für Betriebswirtschaftslehre (Association of business administration professors in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland)


It has been recently observed that in the light of concepts like lean management, shortening of development times, business reengineering or shareholder value, companies have substantially cut down their expenditures for research.

Since research is by definition primarily aimed at the broadening of technological knowledge rather than the development of products or processes which find immediate commercial applications, the benefits of research are not apparent and hence, the allocation of funds to research appears to be unjustified.

Based on data from 25 European and Japanese electronics companies, we examined the relationship between corporate spending on research and patenting output. Since patent applications only measure the overall level of R&D activity, they were differentiated according to their quality in order to assess the technological and commercial impact of R&D activities.

It is found that those companies, which spend a high share of their R&D expenditures on research, hold patents of relatively higher quality. Furthermore, differences between European and Japanese companies with respect to research spending and patent positions are identified.

The results lead to the conclusion that research obviously serves as a base for those inventions, which are of higher technological and commercial importance. Thus, the investment in research appears to be of great value for the competitiveness and should therefore not be neglected.


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Industrial Research as a Source of Important Patents


Ernst, H. 1998


Research Policy, Vol. 27 (1), pp. 1-15. (Best Paper Award; Verband der Hochschullehrer für Betriebswirtschaftslehre (Association of business administration professors in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland)


Empirical research has found a discrepancy between the perceived importance and the actual level of information on competitor's R&D strategies. It has been argued in the literature that patent information might be used to overcome this information deficit. However, empirical research further reveals that patent information is rarely used in strategic R&D planning.

The paper explores this issue and introduces two types of patent portfolios for strategic R&D planning. In patent portfolios on the company level, patenting strategies are identified and the quality of overall technological positions is benchmarked against relevant competitors.

In addition, we present a patent portfolio on the technological level, which, as it is known from various technology portfolios, helps companies to manage the allocation of R&D resources effectively.

Based on patent data from 21 German, European and Japanese mechanical engineering companies we show the application of both patent portfolios for strategic R&D planning purposes. The patent portfolios prove to be a very valuable tool for R&D decision makers in companies.

Based on the experiences made in the case study, recommendation for the effective use of patent portfolios are formulated.


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The use of Patent Data for Technological Forecasting:

The Diffusion of CNC-Technology in the Machine Tool Industry

Author:                Ernst, H. 1997

Publication:        Small Business Economics, Vol. 9 (4), pp. 361-381


In the 1980s, a dramatic change in the competitive structure of the machine tool industry through the development and implementation of CNC-technology occurred. For the individual company, the timely anticipation and forecast of these technological challenges has been of vital importance in order to incorporate these technological changes into its strategic planning process.

This paper assesses the suitability of patent data for forecasting technological developments, based on the experience in the case of CNC-technology. Following a general description of the technological life cycle concept and the discussion of possible benefits of patent data as a technological forecasting tool, actual patenting activity in CNC-technology is analysed.

It is found that the diffusion of CNC-technology can be appropriately described by means of patent data. Different development stages in the life cycle of CNC-technology can be distinguished, where for each stage strategic R&D investment decisions can be derived.

Analysing the impact of CNC-technology on the trade pattern between Japan and Germany clearly reveals that patenting activity causes subsequent and immediate market changes. The strong Japanese patent position in CNC-technology is closely associated with favourable trade changes.

Consequently, it is recommended to incorporate the systematic and continuous monitoring of patenting activity into a company's overall competitor monitoring intelligence. Especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, patent data analysis provides a technological forecasting instrument with high potential benefits and relatively low cost.


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Patentinformationen für die strategische Planung von Forschung und Entwicklung


Author:                 Ernst, H. (1996)

Publication:        DUV-Verlag, Wiesbaden


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Patenting strategies in the German mechanical engineering industry and their relationship to company performance

Author:                             Ernst, H. 1995

Publication:                     Technovation, Vol. 15 (4), pp. 225-236


This paper systematically evaluates the patenting behaviour of a sample of 50 business firms within the German mechanical engineering industry. Based on a framework of multiple patenting indicators, four different types of patenting strategies are identified.

Furthermore, the relationship between these patenting strategies and company performance is analysed. It is shown that patent-active companies perform best for the economic performance variables used.

Finally, the importance of different patenting indicators is assessed. It is found that the number of international patent applications, the rate of valid patents and highly cited patents are positively related to economic performance.

Thus, a differentiated use of patent data is advisable.


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