IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Innovation without Patents: Evidence from World's Fairs

  • Petra Moser

This paper introduces a unique historical data set of more than 8,000 British and American innovations at world's fairs between 1851 and 1915 to explore the relationship between patents and innovations. The data indicate that the majority of innovations--89 percent of British exhibits in 1851--were not patented. Comparisons across British and U.S. data also show that patenting decisions were unresponsive to differences in patent laws. Cross-sectional evidence suggests that high-quality and urban exhibits were more likely to be patented. The most significant differences, however, occurred across industries: inventors were most likely to use patents in industries in which innovations are easy to reverse engineer and secrecy is ineffective relative to patents. In the late nineteenth century, scientific breakthroughs, including the publication of the periodic table, reduced the effectiveness of secrecy in the chemical industry. Difference-in-differences regressions suggest that this change resulted in a significant shift toward patenting.

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.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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.

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 55 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 43 - 74

in new window

Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/663631
Contact details of provider: Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/663631. 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.