September 17, 2014

“Identification and Analysis of Technology Emergence Using Patent Classification,” RAND Corporation, 2014

This report describes a method for detecting, characterizing, and analyzing the development of commercial interest in technology areas, which we call technology emergence. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s formal categorization system has been used to classify literally millions of technical documents. The classification is not merely a single technical descriptor, but a categorization of all the areas of science and technology advanced in the document as recognized by the patent examiner. A rapid increase in patent applications filed related to a specific classification thus can represent its dissemination into new and often unrelated technological areas. This rapid increase in patent application filing is a signal of technology emergence and industry acceptance. By placing their patent portfolios on s-curves, a patenting organization or sponsor can learn: (1) the level of interest in the broader patenting community in the technology areas in which the organization (and its staff) are patenting; and (2) how early or late their specific patents are with respect to when the technology area first emerged.

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