Gaétan de Rassenfosse

Odyssea Station 5
CH-1015 Lausanne


NBER Working Papers and Publications

January 2017Econometric Evidence on the R&D Depreciation Rate
with Adam B. Jaffe: w23072
This paper presents estimates of the R&D depreciation rate using survey data on Australian inventions. Its novelty is twofold. First, it relies on direct observation of the revenue streams of inventions. This is in sharp contrast with previous studies, which all rely on models based on indirect observation and require strong identifying assumptions. Second, it presents estimates of the effect of patent protection on the depreciation rate. Results suggest that the yearly depreciation rate varies in a range of 1 to 5 per cent, although the depreciation rate is stronger in the first two years of inventions averaging 8–9 per cent. Patent protection slows down the erosion of profits by about 1–2 percentage points.
May 2016Low-quality Patents in the Eye of the Beholder: Evidence from Multiple Examiners
with Adam B. Jaffe, Elizabeth Webster: w22244
Low-quality patents are of considerable concern to businesses operating in patent-dense markets. There are two pathways by which low-quality patents may be issued: the patent office may apply systematically a standard that is too lenient (low inventive step threshold); or the patent office may grant patents that are, in fact, below its own threshold (so-called ‘weak’ patents). This paper uses novel data from inventions that have been examined at the five largest patent offices and an explicit model of the grant process to derive first-of-their-kind office-specific estimates of the height of the inventive step threshold and the prevalence of weak patents. The empirical analysis is based on patent applications granted at one office but refused at another office. We estimate that the fraction...
January 2016Patent Citation Data in Social Science Research: Overview and Best Practices
with Adam B. Jaffe: w21868
The last two decades have witnessed a dramatic increase in the use of patent citation data in social science research. Facilitated by digitization of the patent data and increasing computing power, a community of practice has grown up that has developed methods for using these data to: measure attributes of innovations such as impact and originality; to trace flows of knowledge across individuals, institutions and regions; and to map innovation networks. The objective of this paper is threefold. First, it takes stock of these main uses. Second, it discusses four pitfalls associated with patent citation data, related to office, time and technology, examiner, and strategic effects. Third, it highlights gaps in our understanding and offers directions for future research.

Published: Adam B. Jaffe & Gaétan de Rassenfosse, 2017. "Patent citation data in social science research: Overview and best practices," Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, vol 68(6), pages 1360-1374.

December 2014Are Patent Fees Effective at Weeding out Low-quality Patents?
with Adam B. Jaffe: w20785
The paper investigates whether patent fees are an effective mechanism to deter the filing of low-quality patent applications. The study analyzes the effect on patent quality of the Patent Law Amendment Act of 1982, which resulted in a substantial increase in patenting fees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Results from a series of difference-in-differences regressions suggest that the increase in fees led to a weeding out of low-quality patents. About 14 per cent of patents in the lowest quality decile were filtered out, and the effect was especially visible for companies with a large patent portfolio. The study has strong policy implications in the current context of concerns about declines in patent quality.
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us