Strong Steam, Weak Patents, or the Myth of Watt's Innovation-Blocking Monopoly, Exploded
James Watt's 1769 patent is widely supposed to have stood in the way of the development of high-pressure steam technology until it finally expired in 1800. We dispute this popular claim. We show that although it is true that high-pressure steam technology developed only after the expiration of Watt's patent, the delay was due to factors other than that patent itself, including the widely held opinion that the use of high-pressure engines were excessively risky. Indeed, Watt's monopoly rights may actually have hastened the development of the high-pressure steam engine by inspiring Richard Trevithick to revive a supposedly obsolete technology so as to invent around them.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Nicholas Crafts, 2004.
"Steam as a general purpose technology: A growth accounting perspective,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 338-351, 04.
- Nicholas Crafts, 2003. "Steam as a general purpose technology: a growth accounting perspective," Economic History Working Papers 22354, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
- MacLeod Christine & Nuvolari Alessandro, 2016. "Inventive Activities, Patents and Early Industrialisation: A Synthesis of Research Issues," Rivista di storia economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 77-108.
- 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.
- Kitch, Edmund W, 1977. "The Nature and Function of the Patent System," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 265-290, October.
- Richard N. Langlois & David J. Denault & Samson M. Kimenyi, 1994. "Bursting Boilers and the Federal Power Redux The Evolution of Safety on the Western Rivers," Working papers 1994-01, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
- Richard N. Langlois & amd David J. Denault & Samson M. Kimenyi, 1995. "Bursting Boilers and the Federal Power Redux: The Evolution of Safety on the Western Rivers," Economic History 9503002, EconWPA.
- Alessandro Nuvolari, 2004. "Collective invention during the British Industrial Revolution: the case of the Cornish pumping engine," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(3), pages 347-363, May.
- 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.
- Nuvolari, A., 2004. "Collective invention during the British Industrial Revolution: the case of the Cornish pumping engine," Working Papers 04.02, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies.
- Alessandro Nuvolari, 2001. "Collective Invention during the British Industrial Revolution The Case of the Cornish Pumping Engine," DRUID Working Papers 01-05, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
- Halsey, Harlan I., 1981. "The Choice Between High-Pressure and Low-Pressure Steam Power in America in the Early Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(04), pages 723-744, December.
- Alessandro Nuvolari & Bart Verspagen, 2009. "Technical choice, innovation, and British steam engineering, 1800-50 -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(3), pages 685-710, 08.
- Suzanne Scotchmer, 1991. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 29-41, Winter. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/658495. 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: (Journals Division)
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.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with 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 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.