Saturday, January 14, 2017

Evaluating the value of patents; a lesson from baseball?

From time to time, the use of forward patent citation numbers to evaluate the value of
a patent arises, and IPBiz points out the errors of this approach.

In baseball, the value of players involved in a trade is frequently debated. 2017 marks the
five year anniversary of the Pineda (pitcher)/Montero (catcher) trade, and someone posted, noting
that it takes fives years to evaluate a trade. See Five Years Later

The trade in baseball involving the most players happened in late 1954, with key
components involving pitchers (Turley, Larsen) and a catcher (Triandos).
In spite of Turley's 1958 season and Larsen's 1956 perfect game, some have
argued that Baltimore, with Triandos, got the better of the deal.


On November 17, 1954, Paul Richards of the Orioles and George Weiss of the Yankees engineered the largest two team swap of personnel in major league history. The deal was announced in the media in two stages - first, on November 18 it was announced that the Orioles had sent the "Second Coming of Bob Feller" Bullet Bob Turley (American League leader in K's and BB's), Don Larsen (AL leader in losses with 21) and Billy Hunter (the 0's starting shortstop) to the New York Yankees for pitchers Harry Byrd and Jim McDonald; outfielder Gene Woodling; shortstop Willie Miranda; and minor league catchers Gus Triandos and Hal Smith (the American Association's batting champ with a .350 average). Because of waiver and draft regulations the rest of the trade was not officially announced until December 2, 1954. Baltimore sent pitcher Mike Blyzka, catcher Darrell Johnson, first baseman Dick Kryhoski, and outfielders Ted del Guercio and Tim Fridley to the Yankees to complete their end of the deal. The Yankees in turn sent to the Orioles pitcher Bill Miller, second baseman Don Leppert, and third baseman Kal Segrist. Originally, it was reported, that the trade was to have also included Oriole pitcher Lou Kretlow, but the 0's withdrew his name and George Weiss agreed to a nine for eight swap instead of nine for nine.


If longevity and consistency are the chief attributes a baseball player can offer, then the Orioles with Gus Triandos had the edge over the Yankees with Turley and Larsen

Day in and day out, Baltimore got more impact from Triandos. Applying the
five year rule, both Larsen and Turley were of less value to the Yankees than Triandos
to the Orioles by December 1959. Larsen, with a sore arm, was traded to Kansas City in December
1959, as part of the Roger Maris deal, though Larsen would have some revenge in the 1962 World Series,
on the sixth anniversary of his perfect game. This was on October 8, 1962, and, as a bit of trivia, as between Don Larsen and Whitey Ford, it is Larsen who last won a World Series game. (Ford was the starter on October 8, but not the losing pitcher; Ford did lose on October 15, 1962). Triandos was an all-star in 1957, 1958, and 1959, and managed 17 home runs in 1961. Also, Gene Woodling ended up in Cleveland, and hit .321 in 1957 with 19 home runs, and even batted .300 for Baltimore in 1959 with 14 home runs, and was an all-star.

Value in baseball can be measured by tangible values, such as games won or batting average. Patent citations are at best an inferred proxy for value, and the time that
they occur might be relevant to assessing (asserted) impact. Especially, for patents, citations both "too soon" and "too late" are not likely to be correlated with economic value. Moreover, popularity and
trendiness, at the end of the day, do not prove economic value.

As to "too late" in baseball, one notes that at the end of the 1964 season, Triandos played 73 games and batted .250; in 1965, the last year of his 13 year career, 54 games and .175. Bob Turley's last year with the Yankees was 1962, and in baseball 1963. Don Larsen lasted in the majors until 1967; his last winning season was with the Giants in 1962 (5-4).

In the realm of patents, US 4,237,224 (Cohen/Boyer, issued December 2, 1980) is listed in the USPTO database as "referenced by" 304 patents, most recently by US 9,399,667, on July 26, 2016. The 100th most recent citing patent is US 6,042,837, issued in 2000.

**Separately, as to CRISPR patents

--> note the two comments at the labiotech post:

--> CRISPR: The Latest Biotech Hype

UPDATE after Steelers beat Chiefs on 15 Jan 2017:

**Separately, contemplating the value of advice from intellectual property academics who are neither IP practitioners nor entrepreneurs proposing to establish economic value of patents, one considers the words of Pittsburgh Steeler guard Ramon Foster on football prognostication:

”I think we proved that wrong this weekend. Those odds are for people that bet on the game. We play the game.


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