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Secrets for sale? Innovation and the nature of knowledge in an early industrial district: the Potteries, 1750-1851

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  • Lane, Joseph

Abstract

This paper investigates innovation and knowledge in the North Staffordshire Potteries during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It evaluates new empirical evidence of formal and informal patterns of knowledge creation and dissemination in order to highlight tensions between forms of open knowledge sharing and the appropriation of returns to innovative activity. By presenting new patent data it shows that formal protection was not a widespread strategy in the industry. It uses patent specifications to determine what specific types of knowledge were, and could be, patented in the district, and by whom. A range of sources are used to demonstrate evidence of innovation and knowledge appropriation outside of the patent system. The paper identifies distinct types of knowledge in the industry and shows how differences in these led to a range of strategies being employed by potters, with the role of secrecy highlighted as a particularly prevalent and effective strategy.

Suggested Citation

  • Lane, Joseph, 2018. "Secrets for sale? Innovation and the nature of knowledge in an early industrial district: the Potteries, 1750-1851," Economic History Working Papers 89386, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:89386
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Industrial Revolution; Intellectual Property; Patents; Innovation; Earthenware; Industrial District; Technology; Knowledge;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L61 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Metals and Metal Products; Cement; Glass; Ceramics
    • N63 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N73 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N91 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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