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Bennet Woodcroft and the Value of English Patents, 1617-1841

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  • Alessandro Nuvolari
  • Valentina Tartari

Abstract

We examine the potentialities of a new indicator for measuring the value of English patents in the period 1617-1841. The indicator is based on the relative visibility of each individual patent in the contemporary technical and legal literature as summarized in Bennet Woodcroft's Reference Index of Patents of Invention. We conclude that the indicator provides a reasonable proxy for the value of patents and that it can be usefully employed to shed light on the timing and nature of innovation during the Industrial Revolution. In particular, our indicator offers a suitable reconciliation between the patent records evidence and the Crafts-Harley view of the Industrial Revolution.

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Paper provided by Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy in its series LEM Papers Series with number 2009/03.

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Date of creation: 30 Mar 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2009/03

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  1. Petra Moser, 2003. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World Fairs," NBER Working Papers 9909, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Silverberg, Gerald & Verspagen, Bart, 2007. "The size distribution of innovations revisited: An application of extreme value statistics to citation and value measures of patent significance," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 139(2), pages 318-339, August.
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  7. Temin, Peter, 2000. "A Response to Harley and Crafts," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 842-846, September.
  8. Sullivan, Richard J., 1990. "The Revolution of Ideas: Widespread Patenting and Invention During the English Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 349-362, June.
  9. Sullivan, Richard J., 1995. "Patent Counts and Textile Invention: A Comment on Griffiths, Hunt, and O’Brien," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(03), pages 666-670, September.
  10. O’Brien, Patrick K. & Griffiths, Trevor & Hunt, Philip, 1995. "There Is Nothing Outside the Text, and There Is No Safety in Numbers: A Reply to Sullivan," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(03), pages 671-672, September.
  11. Silverberg,Gerald & Verspagen,Bart, 2000. "Breaking the Waves: A Poisson Regression Approach to Schumpeterian Clustering of Basic Innovations," Research Memorandum 026, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  12. MacLeod,Christine, 2007. "Heroes of Invention," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521873703, December.
  13. Temin, Peter, 2000. "A Response to Harley and Crafts," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 842-846, September.
  14. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521687850, December.
  15. Crafts, Nicholas, 2004. "Productivity Growth in the Industrial Revolution: A New Growth Accounting Perspective," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(02), pages 521-535, June.
  16. Harhoff, Dietmar & Scherer, Frederic M. & Vopel, Katrin, 2003. "Citations, family size, opposition and the value of patent rights," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1343-1363, September.
  17. Bessen, James, 2009. "Estimates of patent rents from firm market value," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 1604-1616, December.
  18. Christine MacLeod & Jennifer Tann & James Andrew & Jeremy Stein, 2003. "Evaluating inventive activity: the cost of nineteenth-century UK patents and the fallibility of renewal data," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 56(3), pages 537-562, 08.
  19. Nuvolari, A., 2004. "Collective invention during the British Industrial Revolution: the case of the Cornish pumping engine," Working Papers 04.02, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies.
  20. N. F. R. Crafts & C. K. Harley, 1992. "Output growth and the British industrial revolution: a restatement of the Crafts-Harley view," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 45(4), pages 703-730, November.
  21. Sullivan, Richard J., 1989. "England's Age of invention: The acceleration of patents and patentable invention during the industrial revolution," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 424-452, October.
  22. Christine MacLeod & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2006. "Inventive Activities, Patents and Early Industrialization. A Synthesis of Research Issues," DRUID Working Papers 06-28, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
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