Determinants of Innovation Evidence from 19th Century World Fairs
AbstractPatent laws are designed to create the optimal incentives for innovation, but we know little about how exactly this works. The need to better understand the effects of patent laws is particularly urgent today, as industrialized countries lobby to introduce and strengthen patent laws in developing countries around the world. Although it is difficult to predict the results of such changes, historical data from the mid-nineteenth century may hold important lessons for patent policies today. The nineteenth century is an ideal period to study the effects of patent laws: Mid-nineteenth-century patent laws were adopted in a relatively ad-hoc manner, depending on legal traditions rather than economic considerations. Large differences in patent systems existed across countries, and patentees depended on domestic patent laws because patenting abroad was prohibitively expensive and almost all countries discriminated heavily against foreign patentees. As a result, domestic patent laws played a more important role in creating incentives for domestic invention than at any later stage in history.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.
Volume (Year): 64 (2004)
Issue (Month): 02 (June)
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