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Bennet Woodcroft and the value of English patents, 1617-1841

  • Nuvolari, Alessandro
  • Tartari, Valentina

We examine the potentialities of a new indicator 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 scope 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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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 48 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 97-115

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:48:y:2011:i:1:p:97-115
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Gerald Silverberg & Bart Verspagen, 2003. "Breaking the waves: a Poisson regression approach to Schumpeterian clustering of basic innovations," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(5), pages 671-693, September.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Nicolas van Zeebroeck, 2007. "The puzzle of patent value indicators," Working Papers CEB 07-023.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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  8. Bessen, James, 2009. "Estimates of patent rents from firm market value," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 1604-1616, December.
  9. Temin, Peter, 2000. "A Response to Harley and Crafts," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 842-846, September.
  10. James Bessen, 2006. "The Value of U.S. Patents by Owner and Patent Characteristics," Working Papers 0603, Research on Innovation.
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  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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  15. 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.
  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. Morten O. Ravn & Harald Uhlig, 2002. "On adjusting the Hodrick-Prescott filter for the frequency of observations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 371-375.
  18. Nuvolari, A., 2001. "Collective Invention during the British Industrial Revolution: The Case of the Cornish Pumping Engine," Working Papers 01.04, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies.
  19. 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.
  20. Nicholas Crafts, 2002. "Productivity growth in the Industrial Revolution: a new growth accounting perspective," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  21. Mark Schankerman, 1998. "How Valuable is Patent Protection? Estimates by Technology Field," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(1), pages 77-107, Spring.
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