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Inventive Activity and the Market for Technology in the United States, 1840-1920

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  • Naomi R. Lamoreaux
  • Kenneth L. Sokoloff

Abstract

The growth of the U.S. economy over the nineteenth century was characterized by a sharp acceleration in the rate of inventive activity and a dramatic rise in the relative importance of highly specialized inventors as generators of new technological knowledge. Relying on evidence compiled from patent records, we argue that the evolution of a market for technology played a central role in these developments. Across both individuals and geographic areas, the expansion of opportunities to trade in patent rights was closely associated with increases in specialization at invention, as well as advances in rates of invention more generally. The patent system is often celebrated for the stimulus to invention provided by granting limited monopoly rights to inventors for the use of their discoveries, but its specification of tradable assets in technology has also been important.

Suggested Citation

  • Naomi R. Lamoreaux & Kenneth L. Sokoloff, 1999. "Inventive Activity and the Market for Technology in the United States, 1840-1920," NBER Working Papers 7107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7107
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlos J. Serrano, 2011. "Estimating the Gains from Trade in the Market for Innovation: Evidence from the Transfer of Patents," NBER Working Papers 17304, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Symeonidou, Noni & Bruneel, Johan & Autio, Erkko, 2017. "Commercialization strategy and internationalization outcomes in technology-based new ventures," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 302-317.
    3. Henkel, Joachim & Rønde, Thomas & Wagner, Marcus, 2015. "And the winner is—Acquired. Entrepreneurship as a contest yielding radical innovations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 295-310.
    4. William H. Phillips, 2008. "The Democratization of Invention in the American South: Antebellum and Post Bellum Technology Markets in the United States," Working Papers 0804, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    5. Jonathan Chiu & Cesaire Meh & Randall Wright, 2017. "Innovation And Growth With Financial, And Other, Frictions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 58, pages 95-125, February.
    6. Nicolas Figueroa & Carlos J. Serrano, 2013. "Patent Trading Flows of Small and Large Firms," NBER Working Papers 18982, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Fischer, Timo & Henkel, Joachim, 2012. "Patent trolls on markets for technology – An empirical analysis of NPEs’ patent acquisitions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(9), pages 1519-1533.

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