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15. A patent family is a set of, in legal terms, equivalent patents that describe one and the same invention. This is for instance the case when the same invention is patented in more than one country. In this article we use the term ‘patent’ also for ‘patent families’.
16. As discussed earlier, with patents we mean patent families and particularly the member of a patent family with the earliest filing year. The patent families are defined in the DocDB database which is the internal patent database of the European Patent Database (EPO) that forms the basis for the PATSTAT database.
17. Patents may have multiple IPC codes and thus they may belong to more than one technological field. The classification with 35 technology fields is explained in .
18. Schmoch U (2008). Concept of a Technology Classification for Country Comparisons, see http://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/classifications/en/ipc ce 41/ipc ce 41 5-annex1.pdf.
19. The earliest filing date is the well-documented date closest to the time of invention and can therefore be used as a proxy for that moment of time.
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