Patents and publications as sources of novel and inventive knowledge

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This paper briefly reviews the knowledge-generation process and explores to what degree technical and scientific knowledge from prior art anticipates novelty or the inventive step of an invention. Inventions are novel if they have not been described (in the public) before, and they are inventive if the technical solution was non-obvious to a skilled person in the field. We employ a novel approach of patent citation analysis to investigate this phenomenon. Since in this context common approaches of such citation analysis are biased (usually, citations are neither exhaustive nor relevant in their entirety), we focus on examination reports of European patent applications and the references given therein. Our findings reveal that particularly technical knowledge comprised in patents serves as a source of novelty, while scientific knowledge frequently stems from multiple scientific papers and accounts for the inventive step. In addition, it is found that in many cases scientific knowledge is of commercial relevance and therefore constitutes more than general background information that aids the technical knowledge generation process.

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