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Patent Pools and the Direction of Innovation - Evidence from the 19th-century Sewing Machine Industry

  • Ryan L. Lampe
  • Petra Moser

Patent pools allow a group of firms to combine their patents as if they were a single firm. Theoretical models predict that pools encourage innovation in pool technologies, albeit at the cost of innovation in substitutes. Empirical evidence is scarce because modern pools are too recent to allow empirical analyses. This article examines data on patents and innovations by new firms for a historical pool in the sewing machine industry (1856-1877) to examine effects on innovation. Contrary to theoretical predictions, this analysis suggests that pools may discourage innovation in pool technologies and shift R&D towards technologically inferior substitutes.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17573.

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Date of creation: Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as “Patent Pools and Innovation in Substitute Technologies – Evidence from the U.S. Sewing Machine Industry” (with Ryan Lampe) RAND Journal of Economics, 2014, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp. 757-778.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17573
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  1. Bronwyn H. Hall & Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 2001. "The NBER Patent Citation Data File: Lessons, Insights and Methodological Tools," NBER Working Papers 8498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Vianney Dequiedt & Bruno Versaevel, 2007. "Patent Pools and the Dynamic Incentives to R&D," Post-Print halshs-00142497, HAL.
  3. Jaskold Gabszewicz, J. & Thisse, J. -F., 1979. "Price competition, quality and income disparities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 340-359, June.
  4. Ryan L. Lampe & Petra Moser, 2009. "Do Patent Pools Encourage Innovation? Evidence from the 19th-Century Sewing Machine Industry," NBER Working Papers 15061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
  6. Usher, Abbott Payson, 1956. "The United States Patent System: Legal and Economic Conflicts in American Patent History. By Floyd L. Vaughan. Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1956. Pp. xvi, 355. $8.50," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(03), pages 412-414, September.
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