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Catching-Up and Falling Behind: Knowledge Spillover from American to German Machine Toolmakers

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  • RICHTER, RALF
  • STREB, JOCHEN

Abstract

In our days, German machine tool makers accuse their Chinese competitors of violating patent rights and illegally imitating German technology. A century ago, however, German machine tool makers used exactly the same methods to imitate American technology. To understand the dynamics of this catching-up process we use patent statistics to analyze firms' activities between 1877 and 1932. We show that German machine tool makers successfully deployed imitating and counterfeiting activities in the late 19th century and the 1920s to catchup to their American competitors. The German administration supported this strategy by stipulating a patent law that discriminated against foreign patent holders and probably also by delaying the granting of patents to foreign applicants. Parallel to the growing international competitiveness of German firms, however, the willingness to guarantee intellectual property rights of foreigners was also increasing because German firms had now to fear retaliatory measures in their own export markets when violating foreign property rights within Germany. --

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 71 (2011)
Issue (Month): 04 (December)
Pages: 1006-1031

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:71:y:2011:i:04:p:1006-1031_00

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  1. repec:fth:harver:1473 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Michele Boldrin & David K Levine, 2008. "Against Intellectual Monopoly," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000002371, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521684156 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Pakes, Ariel S, 1986. "Patents as Options: Some Estimates of the Value of Holding European Patent Stocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 755-84, July.
  5. Jochen Streb & J�Rg Baten & Shuxi Yin, 2006. "Technological and geographical knowledge spillover in the German empire 1877-1918," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 59(2), pages 347-373, 05.
  6. Sullivan, Richard J, 1994. "Estimates of the Value of Patent Rights in Great Britain and Ireland, 1852-1876," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 61(241), pages 37-58, February.
  7. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
  8. Streb, Jochen & Wallusch, Jacek & Yin, Shuxi, 2007. "Knowledge spill-over from new to old industries: The case of German synthetic dyes and textiles (1878-1913)," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 203-223, April.
  9. Griliches, Zvi, 1990. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 1661-1707, December.
  10. Abramovitz, Moses, 1986. "Catching Up, Forging Ahead, and Falling Behind," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 385-406, June.
  11. Kirsten Labuske & Jochen Streb, 2008. "Technological Creativity and Cheap Labour? Explaining the Growing International Competitiveness of German Mechanical Engineering before World War I," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 9, pages 65-86, 02.
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Cited by:
  1. Oliver Falck & Christina Guenther & Stephan Heblich & William R. Kerr, 2011. "From Russia with Love: The Impact of Relocated Firms on Incumbent Survival," SERC Discussion Papers 0088, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  2. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2013. "The Role of Human Capital and Innovation in Prussian Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 4391, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Makiko Hino & Mototsugu Fukushige, 2014. "Catching up and falling behind in technological progress: the experience of the textile and chemical industries in Italy between 1904 and 1937," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 14-14, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).

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