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Patents are the main source of data on innovation, but there are persistent concerns that patents may be a noisy and biased measure. An important challenge arises from unobservable variation in the size of the inventive step that is covered by a patent. The count of later patents that cite a patent as relevant prior art -so called forward citations -have become the standard measure to control for such variation. Citations may, however, also be a noisy and biased measure for the size of thedoi:10.3386/w21443 fatcat:erxmerbcvfcdditl4js4oyslcm