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Contact

OECD Environment Directorate (env.stat@oecd.org)

Last updated: November 2017

Data source and methodology

The OECD Environment Directorate, in collaboration with the Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, has developed patent-based innovation indicators that are suitable for tracking developments in environment-related technologies. The indicators allow the assessment of countries' and firms' innovative performance as well as the design of governments' environmental and innovation policies.

The patent statistics presented here are constructed using data extracted from the Worldwide Patent Statistical Database (PATSTAT) of the European Patent Office (EPO) using algorithms developed by the OECD. Consistent with other patent statistics provided in OECD.Stat, only published applications for "patents of invention" are considered (i.e. excluding utility models, petty patents, etc.).

The relevant patent documents are identified using search strategies for environment-related technologies (ENV-TECH) which were developed specifically for this purpose. They allow identifying technologies relevant to environmental management, water-related adaptation and climate change mitigation. An aggregate category labelled "selected environment-related technologies" includes all of the environmental domains presented here.


Detailed patent search strategies for the identification of selected environment-related technologies (ENV-TECH)

The development and global diffusion of environment-related technologies is key for cost-efficient achievement of environmental policy objectives. Consequently the statistics presented here are based on the concept of a patent family which is defined as all patent applications protecting the same ‘priority' (as defined by the Paris Convention), also referred to as ‘simple patent family' (see Martinez 2010). The patent family concept is applied to all statistics presented here, including counts of patent families by inventor country (as a measure of technology development) and by jurisdictions where patent protection for these inventions has been sought (as a measure of technology diffusion).

Data characteristics

Three types of patent-based indicators are presented:

1) Indicator of technology development: The number of inventions (simple patent families) developed by country's inventors, independent of the jurisdictions where patent protection is sought (i.e. all known patent families worldwide are considered). The indicator is disaggregated by:

  • Inventor country - fractional counts by country of residence of the inventor(s); e.g. for a patent listing inventors from two different countries, each country will obtain a count of 0.5, to avoid double-counting of inventions;
  • Priority date - the first filing date worldwide, under the Paris Convention. The priority date is considered to be closest to the actual date of invention;
  • Family size - the size of an international patent family (including the first ‘priority' filing and its equivalents deposited at other patent offices) has been found to be correlated with the value of the invention: Family size "1 and greater" (i.e. all patent priorities) will yield figures based on all available data worldwide, including many low-value inventions; family size "2 and greater" (i.e. ‘claimed' priorities) will count only the higher-value inventions that have sought patent protection in at least two jurisdictions; etc.;
  • Technology domain - based on the ENV-TECH definitions.

2) Indicator of international collaboration in technology development: This dataset provides the number of co-inventions (simple patent families) developed jointly by at least two inventors. For better clarity, the dataset is split into two parts:

International collaboration in technology development (bilateral). This indicator is disaggregated by:

  • Inventor country pair involved in collaboration - integer counts by country of residence of the inventor(s). In cases when inventors from more than two countries collaborate, this is translated into distinct bilateral relationships between country pairs. For example, if inventors from 3 countries collaborate (e.g. USA, DEU, JPN) then a unit count is assigned to 3 country pairs (USA-DEU, DEU-JPN, JPN-USA);
  • Priority date - the first filing date worldwide, under the Paris Convention. The priority date is considered to be closest to the actual date of invention;
  • Technology domain - based on the ENV-TECH definitions.

International collaboration in technology development (rates). This indicator is disaggregated by:

  • Inventor country - integer counts by country of residence of the inventors;
  • Priority date - the first filing date worldwide, under the Paris Convention. The priority date is considered to be closest to the actual date of invention;
  • Variables - percentage of co-inventions developed within-country (all inventors from the same country), percentage with foreign inventors, percentage with inventors only from OECD countries, percentage of co-inventions with at least one inventor from BRIICS countries.
  • Technology domain - based on the ENV-TECH definitions.

3) Indicator of technology diffusion: The number of inventions that seek patent protection through national, regional or international routes (equivalents of the priority application, pertaining to the same "simple patent family") in a given jurisdiction. It shows the extent to which firms and individuals seek to "protect" the relevant markets for their inventions (including both domestic and foreign inventions). The indicator is disaggregated by:

  • Patent office - integer counts of patent applications deposited in different geographic jurisdictions (national and regional application authorities);
  • Application date - the date of filing of a patent application with a given patent office;
  • Coverage - allows displaying statistics based on all available data ("full dataset, with no restriction on coverage") or only for offices with data availability above a certain threshold (90%) in a given year ("conservative coverage"). While for most OECD countries data availability is complete, this distinction might be important particularly for some non-OECD countries; low coverage might underestimate actual performance. Coverage is estimated as the proportion of months in a year with the evidence of at least one patent document deposited at the patent office, based on the bibliographic information provided by the EPO concerning the contents of the master database from which PATSTAT is drawn; and
  • Technology domain - based on the ENV-TECH definitions.

Note that counts for aggregate technological domains are provided separately to avoid double-counting of inventions. For example, the count of "selected environment-related technologies" is less or equal to the sum of its sub-components (environmental management, water-related adaptation, climate change mitigation). This is because patents are commonly classified in more than one technology class. Therefore each patent (invention) is counted only once when aggregating across technological domains.

For further details on the methodology applied to these indicators, see:

For more information on patent data and other work on patent statistics at the OECD, see:

OECD Patent Manual (2009)

Environment Database Technology developmentUnit of measure usedNumberPower codeUnitsOther data characteristics

Contact

OECD Environment Directorate (env.stat@oecd.org)

Last updated: November 2017

Data source and methodology

The OECD Environment Directorate, in collaboration with the Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation, has developed patent-based innovation indicators that are suitable for tracking developments in environment-related technologies. The indicators allow the assessment of countries' and firms' innovative performance as well as the design of governments' environmental and innovation policies.

The patent statistics presented here are constructed using data extracted from the Worldwide Patent Statistical Database (PATSTAT) of the European Patent Office (EPO) using algorithms developed by the OECD. Consistent with other patent statistics provided in OECD.Stat, only published applications for "patents of invention" are considered (i.e. excluding utility models, petty patents, etc.).

The relevant patent documents are identified using search strategies for environment-related technologies (ENV-TECH) which were developed specifically for this purpose. They allow identifying technologies relevant to environmental management, water-related adaptation and climate change mitigation. An aggregate category labelled "selected environment-related technologies" includes all of the environmental domains presented here.


Detailed patent search strategies for the identification of selected environment-related technologies (ENV-TECH)

The development and global diffusion of environment-related technologies is key for cost-efficient achievement of environmental policy objectives. Consequently the statistics presented here are based on the concept of a patent family which is defined as all patent applications protecting the same ‘priority' (as defined by the Paris Convention), also referred to as ‘simple patent family' (see Martinez 2010). The patent family concept is applied to all statistics presented here, including counts of patent families by inventor country (as a measure of technology development) and by jurisdictions where patent protection for these inventions has been sought (as a measure of technology diffusion).

Data characteristics

Three types of patent-based indicators are presented:

1) Indicator of technology development: The number of inventions (simple patent families) developed by country's inventors, independent of the jurisdictions where patent protection is sought (i.e. all known patent families worldwide are considered). The indicator is disaggregated by:

  • Inventor country - fractional counts by country of residence of the inventor(s); e.g. for a patent listing inventors from two different countries, each country will obtain a count of 0.5, to avoid double-counting of inventions;
  • Priority date - the first filing date worldwide, under the Paris Convention. The priority date is considered to be closest to the actual date of invention;
  • Family size - the size of an international patent family (including the first ‘priority' filing and its equivalents deposited at other patent offices) has been found to be correlated with the value of the invention: Family size "1 and greater" (i.e. all patent priorities) will yield figures based on all available data worldwide, including many low-value inventions; family size "2 and greater" (i.e. ‘claimed' priorities) will count only the higher-value inventions that have sought patent protection in at least two jurisdictions; etc.;
  • Technology domain - based on the ENV-TECH definitions.

2) Indicator of international collaboration in technology development: This dataset provides the number of co-inventions (simple patent families) developed jointly by at least two inventors. For better clarity, the dataset is split into two parts:

International collaboration in technology development (bilateral). This indicator is disaggregated by:

  • Inventor country pair involved in collaboration - integer counts by country of residence of the inventor(s). In cases when inventors from more than two countries collaborate, this is translated into distinct bilateral relationships between country pairs. For example, if inventors from 3 countries collaborate (e.g. USA, DEU, JPN) then a unit count is assigned to 3 country pairs (USA-DEU, DEU-JPN, JPN-USA);
  • Priority date - the first filing date worldwide, under the Paris Convention. The priority date is considered to be closest to the actual date of invention;
  • Technology domain - based on the ENV-TECH definitions.

International collaboration in technology development (rates). This indicator is disaggregated by:

  • Inventor country - integer counts by country of residence of the inventors;
  • Priority date - the first filing date worldwide, under the Paris Convention. The priority date is considered to be closest to the actual date of invention;
  • Variables - percentage of co-inventions developed within-country (all inventors from the same country), percentage with foreign inventors, percentage with inventors only from OECD countries, percentage of co-inventions with at least one inventor from BRIICS countries.
  • Technology domain - based on the ENV-TECH definitions.

3) Indicator of technology diffusion: The number of inventions that seek patent protection through national, regional or international routes (equivalents of the priority application, pertaining to the same "simple patent family") in a given jurisdiction. It shows the extent to which firms and individuals seek to "protect" the relevant markets for their inventions (including both domestic and foreign inventions). The indicator is disaggregated by:

  • Patent office - integer counts of patent applications deposited in different geographic jurisdictions (national and regional application authorities);
  • Application date - the date of filing of a patent application with a given patent office;
  • Coverage - allows displaying statistics based on all available data ("full dataset, with no restriction on coverage") or only for offices with data availability above a certain threshold (90%) in a given year ("conservative coverage"). While for most OECD countries data availability is complete, this distinction might be important particularly for some non-OECD countries; low coverage might underestimate actual performance. Coverage is estimated as the proportion of months in a year with the evidence of at least one patent document deposited at the patent office, based on the bibliographic information provided by the EPO concerning the contents of the master database from which PATSTAT is drawn; and
  • Technology domain - based on the ENV-TECH definitions.

Note that counts for aggregate technological domains are provided separately to avoid double-counting of inventions. For example, the count of "selected environment-related technologies" is less or equal to the sum of its sub-components (environmental management, water-related adaptation, climate change mitigation). This is because patents are commonly classified in more than one technology class. Therefore each patent (invention) is counted only once when aggregating across technological domains.

For further details on the methodology applied to these indicators, see:

For more information on patent data and other work on patent statistics at the OECD, see:

OECD Patent Manual (2009)