Université Paris-Sud
3 years Phd contract in partnership with a leading patent office
Université Paris-Sud
Paris-Sud University is a place dedicated to high-level research, focused on understanding the world, backing student success and responding to the needs of society. Its high level of research is evidenced by numerous awards and its position in international rankings. But Paris-Sud University can also be proud of its leading position among French universities, in terms of integration of students and doctoral students.
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Published: 8 days ago
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Location: Orsay, France
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3 years Phd contract in partnership with a leading patent office

"Analysis of the quality of patented inventions by predictive indicators and ranking of companies according to their potential for innovation"

The very significant increase in patent filings in the last 15 years is linked to the convergence of several trends: globalization, the emergence of China, monetization, litigation prevention and commercial or corporate communication. Has this phenomenon been made possible by an increase in the productivity of R & D or a deterioration in the average quality of patented inventions? The answer to such a question is essential for all the investors who do not have tools sufficiently robust and convincing to analyze the quality of the patented inventions and for all the industrial companies which have to cope with a growing lack of freedom to operate of its inventions with litigation risks whose cost has become exorbitant.

The fundamental question here is therefore the quality of the granted patents and ultimately their intrinsic value in terms of innovation (Albert et al. 2001, Hall et al., 2005, Harhoff et al., 2003, Sullivan, 2009). This largely explains the observable dysfunctions in the patent markets, which cannot be explained by asymmetric information, which is a source of significant transaction costs (Madiès et al., 2014). The literature has largely considered the issue of patent value drivers, as a continuation of the pioneering work of Pakes (1986) and Schankerman and Pakes (1986). More generally, the question of the value of patents is to be considered from the perspective of valuing an intangible asset for innovation (Bounfour, Miyagawa, 2015).

Patent quality is supposed to be a source of value. It is approached according to various criteria, including the number of citations (Trajtenberg, 1990, Jaffe et al., 2002), the number of applications, the size of the family (Lerner, 1994), the number of claims (Lanjouw et al. ., 2001, Harhoff  et al. 2003), and the technological class of the patent. The index of generality and the index of originality are also considered in the literature, and calculated taking into account the sources and the quantity of backward and forward citations. In practice, it has been established that the "quality" of patented inventions varies considerably from one patent to another and from one firm to another (Scherer, 1965). Numerous econometric studies have shown that this quality can be measured by indicators. But even today, the debate continues on their choice, their meaning, their definition, and their methods of calculation. The OECD has conducted an important work in this area and has greatly contributed to clarifying the situation, in particular by developing a comprehensive approach to patent quality (Guellec, 2009, Guellec, van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, 2000, Squicciarini et al., 2013). In partnership with a major manufacturer and then with the INPI, the OST also showed that the predictive indicators of the technical quality of patents recommended by the OECD were relevant (with some adaptations) to compare the quality of portfolios of inventions from companies operating in the same industrial sector. This work makes it possible to envisage the setting up of reliable and internationally recognized indicators.

This research will take place in 3 phases:

-Collection and review of bibliographic data and existing know-how, in particular to calculate predictive indicators and adequately analyze the resulting data;

-Focus on quality analysis of patented inventions and conducting studies on different industrial sectors in close liaison with major operators of the sector;

-Development of a similar methodology to analyze the legal quality of inventions.

This work will be conducted in close collaboration with the French Patent Office (INPI), with the objective of developing an international reference method validated by the five largest patent offices worldwide (China, Korea, Japan, USA and Europe). The research work to be carried out should have a significant scientific and operational gap, because today we do not have a reliable method for measuring the quality of patented inventions in the patent portfolio of large companies. For a long time, the amount of patents has been used as a proxy for the creative power of the most innovative companies. The experts in charge of monetization of patents know that it is an irrelevant proxy, this ranking also appearing disadvantageous for the most innovative companies. Many companies use their economic power to create patent production whose sole purpose is not innovation but the deterrence of competition, start-ups or public research organizations ... while the quality associated with these patents is often debatable (Mc Clure, 2015). The research aims to identify the most innovative companies and to create a sector ranking more relevant for investors. These scientific studies, based on public information, will help company patent officials to better arbitrate investment and optimize the management of their patent portfolios. Finally, the contribution of these rigorous elements will be particularly useful to convince banks or investments funds in their efforts to recognize patents as collateral assets. This study is expected to have a significant international impact as the major patent offices have created focus groups to improve the quality of the patents they issue. Nowadays, there is virtually no information in the annual reports of international companies on the quality of patented inventions while the value of the company is largely based on their intangible assets.


Albert, M. B., D. Avery, et al. (1991). "Direct validation of citation counts as indicators of industrially important patents." Research Policy 20: 251-259.

Bounfour A., Miyagawa, T. (Eds) (2015). Intangibles , Market Failure and Innovation Growth. Springer

      Guellec .D (2009) “OECD Patent statistics manual”. OECD.

Guellec, D. and B. v. P. de la Potterie (2000). "Applications, grants and the value of patent." Economics Letters 69(1): 109.

Hall, B. H., A. Jaffe, et al. (2005). "Market Value and Patent Citations." Rand Journal of Economics 36(1): 16-38.

Harhoff, D., F. M. Scherer, et al. (2003). "Citations, family size, opposition and the value of patent rights." Research Policy 32(8): 1343-1363.

Jaffe, A. B., M. Trajtenberg, et al. (2002). The Meaning of Patent Citations: Report on the NBER/Case-Western Reserve Survey of Patentees. Patents, Citations, and Innovation.

Jaffe A.B. and M. Trajtenberg. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press: 379-401

Lanjouw, J. O. and M. Schankerman (2001). "Characteristics of patent litigation: a window on competition." RAND Journal of Economics 32(1).

Lerner, J. (1994), ‘The importance of patent scope: an empirical analysis’, Ran Journal  of Economics, 25, 319-333.

Madiès,T., Guellec, D.,Prager, J.C.(2014). ”Patent Markets in the global knowledge economy” Cambridge University Press.

McClure,Y.,Causevic Elvir,(2015),”Board accountability for patents” Intellectual Asset Management, Nov. p43-52

Pakes, A. (1986), ‘Patents as options: some estimates of the value of holding European patent stocks’, Econometrica, 54, 755–784.

Schankerman, M., Pakes, A., (1986), Estimates of the value of patent rights in European countries during the post-1950 period, The Economic Journal, 96, 1052–1076.

Scherrer,F.M.(1965), “Firm size, Market structure, Opportunity, and the Output of Patented Inventions”, American Economic Review 55(5):1097-1125

Squicciarini, M., H. Dernis and C. Criscuolo (2013). “Measuring patent quality : indicators of technological and economic value”, OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working papers, 2013/03, OECD publishing.

Sullivan P. (2009). “Standardising IP valuations: whether what and how” Intellectual Asset Management,March, p31-36.

Trajtenberg, M. (1990).“A penny for your quotes: patent citations and the value of inventions”. RAND Journal of Economics, 21, 172-187

The host institution :

An intensive research university with a broad disciplinary spectrum, Paris-Sud University is particularly renowned for the level of its basic research (mathematics, physics) but also in the field of health sciences, law or sports sciences. Since its creation, Paris-Sud University has won two Nobel and four Fields medals through its researchers. In 2017, Paris-Sud University ranked 41st in the world (2nd French university) in the Shanghai rankings and is the 4th ranked French institution in Times Higher Education (THE). Research should gain even more visibility by its integration within the Paris-Saclay University, a major project for Paris-Sud University and its partners. To this end, Paris-Sud University is strengthening and boosting its research activities by grouping its laboratories in thematic centers of excellence.

Prestigious by its research, the University Paris-Sud is also well known for its offer of very extensive training in technology. This training is part of the Paris-Saclay University framework and allows students to benefit from the know-how of all Paris-Saclay member institutions. Paris-Sud University is spread over eight campuses in the south of Paris, which represent a total of 570,000 m2 of built-up areas. State loans and local authorities allow it to currently realize 260 000 m2 of real estate projects including 90 000 m2 of new construction.

RITM is the research laboratory in economics and management of the University Paris-Sud and brings together about sixty researchers around two axes: Networks-Innovation and Territories and Globalization.

The European Chair of Intangibles is a platform for research and dissemination of knowledge about intangible assets from an international perspective. It is supported by leading companies and institutions.


The holder of the research project

The National Institute of Industrial Property, INPI, is a public administrative institution, under the supervision of the French Ministry of Economy, Industry and Digital. INPI is based in Courbevoie, Hauts-de-Seine. The INPI is responsible for receiving and issuing intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, designs, models, etc.) and participates in the development of intellectual property law at national and European level (European Patent Office) and International (World Intellectual Property Organization).

In this context, and in accordance with Axis 1 of its 2018-2020 Objectives and Performance Contract, the INPI aims to "reinforce the quality of industrial property rights and the data made available to companies to create value to the economy ".

INPI therefore wishes to provide new tools or indicators to better qualify patented inventions and promote their development, to help companies, public research organizations to optimize their management and their monetization.

The INPI, “House of Innovators”, wishes to use these results to provide the international community (including the 5 largest patent offices) with a methodology for calculating and analyzing predictive parameters of the quality of inventions that could become the international reference. . This work should provide a toolbox and indicators enabling companies to better showcase innovative companies, particularly with investors.

The work of this thesis will be supervised by Frédéric Caillaud, Director of Innovation, former head of Licensing and Business Development at L'Oréal, an international expert in strategic IP analysis, evaluation and valuation. Its international network will be available to the selected candidate. The INPI will also provide databases (100 million patents), its experts in the industrial sectors studied and its decoding and mapping tools to qualify and quantify the environment of the various studies.

Profile sought / Required skills

Graduated at the Master II level, with a quantitative orientation (quantitative models, econometrics ...) and a strong interest in innovation.

Documents to be transmitted

CV, letter (s) of recommendation and references, motivation


Ahmed BOUNFOUR, University Professor, Paris-Sud University, RITM & European Chair of Intangibles, 54 Bd Desgranges, 92330 Sceaux.

Email: Ahmed.bounfour@u-psud.fr; Tel: (+33)140911733


3 years Phd industrial contract, in line with international standards

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