Uncovering GPTS with Patent Data

Bronwyn H Hall, Manuel Trajtenberg

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paper


This paper asks the question: Can we see evidence of General Purpose Technologies in patent data? Using data on three million US patents granted between 1967 and 1999, and their citations received between 1975 and 2002, we construct a number of measures of GPTs, including generality, number of citations, and patent class growth, for patents themselves and for the patents that cite the patents. A selection of the top twenty patents in the tails of the distribution of several of these measures yields a set of mostly ICT technologies, of which the most important are those underlying transactions on the internet and object-oriented software. We conclude with a brief discussion of the problems we encountered in developing our measures and suggestions for future work in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge, Mass
PublisherNational Bureau of Economic Research
Number of pages41
StatePublished - Nov 2004

Publication series

NameNBER working paper series
PublisherNational Bureau of Economic Research

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