The origins of new technological domains

We propose a new method to understand the origins of new technological domains. To define new technological domains, we rely on the taxonomy provided by the US patent office (USPTO). Because a large number of patents is applied for every year, and because patent officers need an efficient tool to search for prior art when evaluating novelty claims in patent applications, the USPTO has developed and maintained an elaborated taxonomy of inventions. Our starting point is to consider that when the USPTO introduces a new patent class, this reflects the fact that a new technological domain has emerged and is being recognized [1].
Our paper seeks to understand the origin of these new technological domains, using the history of five million U.S. patents from the last four decades. We analyze the patents that were granted before the birth of a new technological domain but were subsequently reclassified into the new domain. The class of origin of these patents indicate, we argue, the domains from which the new domain emerged. We first systematically investigate reclassification patterns associated with new classes, providing a range of descriptive statistics. Second, we attempt to classify new domains into different categories, depending on whether they correspond more to a branching event, a recombination event, or are part of a wider turbulence in the classification system associated with the emergence of general purpose technologies. Furthermore, the phylogeny that we obtain from the reclassification network lends itself to a clustering of technologies according to the similarity of their origins.

Authors: 
Vilhelm Verendel, Francois Lafond and J .Doyne Farmer
Room: 
4
Date: 
Monday, September 24, 2018 - 11:30 to 11:45

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