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

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  • Spear, Brian

Abstract

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
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    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.

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