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Independent Invention in Italy during the Liberal Age, 1861-1913

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  • Alessandro Nuvolari
  • Michelangelo Vasta

Abstract

In this paper we examine the phenomenon of independent invention in Italy during the liberal age (1861-1913). We make use of a new dataset comprising all patents granted in Italy in five benchmark years: 1864-65, 1881, 1891, 1902 and 1911. We carry out the following exercises. First we examine the relative shares of independent, corporate and foreign inventions and their evolution over time and across industries. Second, by exploiting the peculiarities of Italian patent legislation which established a maximum patent length of fifteen years and a flexible renewal scheme which allowed inventors to maintain a patent "alive" for almost any specific duration, we assess the relative quality of independent and corporate patents. Our results indicate that in Italy independent inventors provided an important contribution to technological change but the quality of their patents was significantly lower than that of firms and of foreign patentees.

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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 2013/20.

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Date of creation: 30 Sep 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2013/20

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  1. Sokoloff, Kenneth L. & Khan, B. Zorina, 1990. "The Democratization of Invention During Early Industrialization: Evidence from the United States, 1790–1846," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(02), pages 363-378, June.
  2. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," NBER Chapters, in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 287-343 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bessen, James, 2008. "The value of U.S. patents by owner and patent characteristics," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 932-945, June.
  4. 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.
  5. Nicholas, Tom, 2010. "The Role of Independent Invention in U.S. Technological Development, 1880–1930," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 70(01), pages 57-82, March.
  6. Saiz, Patricio, 2012. "Social Networks of Innovation in the European Periphery. Exploring Independent versus Corporate Patents in Spain circa 1820-1939," Working Papers in Economic History 2012/01, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
  7. Freeman, Chris & Louca, Francisco, 2001. "As Time Goes By: From the Industrial Revolutions to the Information Revolution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199241071.
  8. Alessandro Nuvolari & Michelangelo Vasta, 2012. "The Ghost in the Attic? The Italian National Innovation System in Historical Perspective, 1861-2011," Department of Economics University of Siena 665, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  9. Chris Freeman & Luc Soete, 1997. "The Economics of Industrial Innovation, 3rd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 3, volume 1, number 0262061953, December.
  10. repec:fth:harver:1473 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Naomi R. Lamoreaux & Kenneth L. Sokoloff & Dhanoos Sutthiphisal, 2009. "The Reorganization of Inventive Activity in the United States during the Early Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 15440, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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