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Unveiling the geography of historical patents in the United States from 1836 to 1975

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It is clear that technology is a key driver of economic growth. Much less clear is where new technologies are produced and how the geography of U.S. invention has changed over the last two hundred years. Patent data report the geography, history, and technological characteristics of invention. However, those data have only recently become available in digital form and at the present time there exists no comprehensive dataset on the geography of knowledge production in the United States prior to 1975. The database presented in this paper unveils the geography of historical patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) from 1836 to 1975. This historical dataset, HistPat, is constructed using digitalized records of original patent documents that are publicly available. We describe a methodological procedure that allows recovery of geographical information on patents from the digital records. HistPat can be used in different disciplines ranging from geography, economics, history, network science, and science and technology studies. Additionally, it is easily merged with post-1975 USPTO digital patent data to extend it until today.




Petralia, S., Balland, P. A., & Rigby, D. L. (2016, August 30). Unveiling the geography of historical patents in the United States from 1836 to 1975. Scientific Data. Nature Publishing Groups.

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