Temporal motifs in patent opposition and collaboration networks

Penghang Liu, Naoki Masuda, Tomomi Kito, Ahmet Erdem Sarıyüce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Patents are intellectual properties that reflect innovative activities of companies and organizations. The literature is rich with the studies that analyze the citations among the patents and the collaboration relations among companies that own the patents. However, the adversarial relations between the patent owners are not as well investigated. One proxy to model such relations is the patent opposition, which is a legal activity in which a company challenges the validity of a patent. Characterizing the patent oppositions, collaborations, and the interplay between them can help better understand the companies’ business strategies. Temporality matters in this context as the order and frequency of oppositions and collaborations characterize their interplay. In this study, we construct a two-layer temporal network to model the patent oppositions and collaborations among the companies. We utilize temporal motifs to analyze the oppositions and collaborations from structural and temporal perspectives. We first characterize the frequent motifs in patent oppositions and investigate how often the companies of different sizes attack other companies. We show that large companies tend to engage in opposition with multiple companies. Then we analyze the temporal interplay between collaborations and oppositions. We find that two adversarial companies are more likely to collaborate in the future than two collaborating companies oppose each other in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1917
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • cs.SI
  • physics.soc-ph


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