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Patent trends as a technological forecasting tool

By Richard S. Campbell


Patent indicators provide a very useful forecasting tool for decision makers in the public and private sectors. These tools are useable for Research and Development planning, for competition analyses, and for analytical studies of how technologies emerge, mature and pass away. Currently in the public and private sectors there are numerous indicators of performance for sales, finance and similar issues but no corresponding information on technological performance. Battelle, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, has identified several families of indicators which can be extracted from patent data to measure corporate or national technological performance. These include measures such as: - Patent activity level of firms' intellectual property - Age of firms' technology bases - Relative legal/technological strength of firms and similar measures.

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