The emergence of pattent bibliometrics as a new branch of scientometrics necessitates a deeper understanding of the relationship between patents and papers. As this connection is established through the linkage between patents and research papers, one must have a clear idea of similarities and differences between patent and paper citations. This paper will investigate to what extent one can not only apply bibliometric methods to patents but also extend the existing interpretative framework for citations in research papers to the field of patent citations. After pointing out some parallels in the debates about the nature of citations in patents and scientific articles, the paper outlines those parts of bibliometric theory covering scientific citations that could be relevant to patent citations too. Then it highlights the specialties and peculiarities of patent citations. One major conclusion is that the general nature of a common framework for both scientific and patent citations would severely limit its usefulness, but research on academic citations might still be a great source of inspiration to the study of patent citations.