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한국개발연구. Vol. 32, No. 4, December 2010, pp. 115-151

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Empirical Analysis of University Patenting in Korea

Joong hae Suh

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Recently Korean universities show very rapid increases in both patents and R&D (research and development) expenditures. During the period from 1970 to 2008, university R&D spending has on the average increased 15.3% annually. Along with steady increases in R&D spending, university’s research outputs have also continuously increased. In 1990 Korea as a total published 1,613 SCI-level scientific papers and Korean universities applied 27 patents to Korea patent office. In 2008, Korea published more that 35,000 SCI papers and Korean universities applied about 7,300 patents. The growth of scientific articles had begun from the early 1990s whereas the growth of patent has ignited entering the 2000s. The paper tried to investigate university research through the window of patent. Patents lie between invention and innovation and represent the potential value of invention which will be realized at the marketplace. Since Korean patents do not contain citation information, the paper used US patents-NBER patent database-as the main data. The key empirical question is whether Korean university patents granted from USPTO are characteristically different from other Korean patents granted from USPTO. Previous studies on US and Europe show that corporate patents are more stylized in appropriablity of invention, whereas university patents basicness. In case of Korea, the paper confirmed the appropriability characteristic of corporate patents; but the Korean unversity patents are not distinguishable in terms of basicness. The paper estimated the citation frequency function-an empirical model which was firstly developed by Caballero and Jaffe (1993) and later articulated by Jaffe and Trajtenberg (1996, 2002). The model is specified mainly composed of two interacting parts-diffusion effect and obsolescence effect of new ideas or innovations. Estimation results show that differences in forward citations between university and corporate patents are not statistically significant, after controlling self-citation. Since forward citations represent the quality of patents, this estimation result implies that there are no statistically significant quality differences between university and corporate patents. Prior research results, based on the same model of citation frequency function, about US and some European cases show that, in terms of forward citations, university patents are generally superior to corporate patents -for the case of US- or, the former not inferior to the latter-for the case of most of Europe. It is argued that some important and significant policy changes caused the rapid rise of university patents in Korea. Policy changes include the revision of technology transfer act allowing the ownership of publicly-funded research results to researchers and the changes in faculty/professor evaluation which gives more credit to the number of patents. These policy changes have triggered the rapid growth of the number of university patents. The results of the empirical analysis in this paper indicated that Korea now needs to make further efforts to enhance the quality of university patents, not just to produce more numbers of patents.


특허(Patent), 대학 특허(University Patent), 대학 연구(University Research)

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