IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

GB innovation since 1950 and the role of the independent inventor: An analysis of completed term patents


  • Spear, Brian


Historians and economists are agreed on the importance of technical invention and innovation in modern industrial societies but hold varied opinions on the respective roles of corporations and independents. One reason is the difficulty of obtaining accurate quantitative data, in the absence of which there is a strong tendency to fall back on entertaining if often misleading "heroic inventor" stories. Patent statistics are extensive and freely available, if difficult to interpret for non-patent specialists, so a few researchers have used these to attempt to quantify invention and innovation, especially in the USA. The author has used statistics on GB originating completed term patents to study the respective role of GB corporate and independent innovators since 1950. He concludes that, despite the rise of 20th century corporate research, of the order of a third of successful innovation still comes from independents judging by samples of GB patents expiring in 1970 and 2003. However, this third comes from a steadily reducing pool of innovation corresponding largely to the decline of GB manufacturing industry.

Suggested Citation

  • Spear, Brian, 2006. "GB innovation since 1950 and the role of the independent inventor: An analysis of completed term patents," World Patent Information, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 140-146, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:worpat:v:28:y:2006:i:2:p:140-146

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Lettl, Christopher & Rost, Katja & von Wartburg, Iwan, 2009. "Why are some independent inventors 'heroes' and others 'hobbyists'? The moderating role of technological diversity and specialization," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 243-254, March.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:worpat:v:28:y:2006:i:2:p:140-146. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.