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Evaluating inventive activity: the cost of nineteenth‐century UK patents and the fallibility of renewal data

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  • Christine MacLeod
  • Jennifer Tann
  • James Andrew
  • Jeremy Stein

Abstract

It has long been recognized that counting patents offers a poor gauge of the extent and value of inventive activity, not least because the quality of patented inventions varies enormously. The Schankerman‐Pakes model provides a valuable alternative gauge that utilizes the data from renewal fees which are regularly paid to keep a patent in force. This article suggests, however, that the model's application to nineteenth‐century UK patents may underestimate the value of Victorian inventive activity because many patentees lacked the financial resources to implement the rational choice that the model assumes. Focusing on steam‐engineering patents, it explores further problems with renewal data and the increasing rate of lapsed applications.

Suggested Citation

  • 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, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:56:y:2003:i:3:p:537-562
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0289.2003.00261.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    5. repec:fth:harver:1473 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Lanjouw, Jean O & Pakes, Ariel & Putnam, Jonathan, 1998. "How to Count Patents and Value Intellectual Property: The Uses of Patent Renewal and Application Data," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 405-432, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandro Nuvolari & Michelangelo Vasta, 2015. "Independent invention in Italy during the Liberal Age, 1861–1913," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(3), pages 858-886, August.
    2. Bottomley, Sean, 2014. "Patenting in England, Scotland and Ireland during the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1852," IAST Working Papers 14-07, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    3. Brunt, Liam & Lerner, Josh & Nicholas, Tom, 2008. "Inducement Prizes and Innovation," CEPR Discussion Papers 6917, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Patricio Sáiz & Rubén Amengual, 2018. "Do patents enable disclosure? Strategic innovation management of the four-stroke engine," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(6), pages 975-997.
    5. Burton, M. Diane & Nicholas, Tom, 2017. "Prizes, patents and the search for longitude," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 21-36.
    6. Nuvolari, Alessandro & Tartari, Valentina, 2011. "Bennet Woodcroft and the value of English patents, 1617-1841," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 97-115, January.
    7. Gaetan de Rassenfosse & Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, 2013. "The Role Of Fees In Patent Systems: Theory And Evidence," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(4), pages 696-716, September.
    8. Brunt, Liam & Lerner, Josh & Nicholas, Tom, 2011. "Inducement Prizes and Innovation," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 25/2011, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    9. Alessandro Nuvolari & Valentina Tartari, 2009. "Mr Woodcroft and the value of English patents of invention, 1617-1852," Working Papers 9015, Economic History Society.
    10. Nicholas, Tom, 2011. "Cheaper patents," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 325-339, March.
    11. Saiz, Patricio & Amengual, Rafael, 2016. "Knowledge Disclosure, Patent Management, and the Four-Stroke Engine Business," Working Papers in Economic History 2016/02, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
    12. Billington, Stephen D., 2018. "Patent costs and the value of inventions: Explaining patenting behaviour between England, Ireland and Scotland, 1617-1852," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2018-10, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
    13. Bottomley, Sean, 2014. "Patenting in England, Scotland and Ireland during the Industrial Revolution, 1700–1852," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 48-63.
    14. Matthew Gibbons & Les Oxley, 2017. "New Perspectives on Patenting Activity in New Zealand 1860-1899," Working Papers in Economics 17/04, University of Waikato.
    15. Matthew Gibbons & Les Oxley, 2017. "The Relationship of Patenting Applications and Expenditure with Output and Real GDP in Nineteenth Century Colonial New Zealand," Working Papers in Economics 17/05, University of Waikato.

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