A hybrid similarity measure method for patent portfolio analysis

Similarity measures are fundamental tools for identifying relationships within or across patent portfolios. Many bibliometric indicators are used to determine similarity measures; for example, bibliographic coupling, citation and co-citation, and co-word distribution. This paper aims to construct a hybrid similarity measure method based on multiple indicators to analyze patent portfolios. Two models are proposed: categorical similarity and semantic similarity. The categorical similarity model emphasizes international patent classifications (IPCs), while the semantic similarity model emphasizes textual elements. We introduce fuzzy set routines to translate the rough technical (sub-) categories of IPCs into defined numeric values, and we calculate the categorical similarities between patent portfolios using membership grade vectors. In parallel, we identify and highlight core terms in a 3-level tree structure and compute the semantic similarities by comparing the tree-based structures. A weighting model is designed to consider: 1) the bias that exists between the categorical and semantic similarities, and 2) the weighting or integrating strategy for a hybrid method. A case study to measure the technological similarities between selected firms in China’s medical device industry is used to demonstrate the reliability our method, and the results indicate the practical meaning of our method in a broad range of informetric applications.


  • An application that introduces fuzzy sets to transform IPCs to numeric values.
  • A 3-level tree structure that arranges terms hierarchically for similarity measure.
  • A study that applies similarity measure for technology mergers and acquisitions.


Author(s): Yi Zhang, Lining Shang, Lu Huang, Alan L. Porter, Guangquan Zhang, Jie Lu, Donghua Zhu
Organization(s): University of Technology Sydney, Beijing Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology
Source: Journal of Informetrics
Year: 2016

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