IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

150 Years of Patent Protection


  • Josh Lerner


This paper examines three sets of explanations for variations in the strength of patent protection across sixty countries and a 150-year period. Wealthier nations are more likely to have patent systems, to allow patentees a longer time to put their patents into practice, and to ratify treaties assuring equal treatment of other nations. But they are also likely to charge higher fees and limit patent protection in some important ways. Countries with democratic political institutions are consistently more likely to have patent protection appear to be determined by historical factors. The origin of a country's commercial law appears particularly important in explaining the presence of restrictions on patentees' privileges and discriminatory provisions against foreign patentees.

Suggested Citation

  • Josh Lerner, 2000. "150 Years of Patent Protection," NBER Working Papers 7478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7478
    Note: PR

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. North, Douglass C., 1979. "A framework for analyzing the state in economic history," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 249-259, July.
    2. Diwan, Ishac & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Patents, appropriate technology, and North-South trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 27-47, February.
    3. Deardorff, Alan V, 1992. "Welfare Effects of Global Patent Protection," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 59(233), pages 35-51, February.
    4. Gould, David M. & Gruben, William C., 1996. "The role of intellectual property rights in economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 323-350, March.
    5. Kortum, Samuel & Lerner, Josh, 1998. "Stronger protection or technological revolution: what is behind the recent surge in patenting?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 247-304, June.
    6. Kremer, Michael R., 1998. "Patent Buyouts: A Mechanism for Encouraging Innovation," Scholarly Articles 3693705, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    7. Maskus, Keith E. & Penubarti, Mohan, 1995. "How trade-related are intellectual property rights?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3-4), pages 227-248, November.
    8. Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Innovation, Imitation, and Intellectual Property Rights," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(6), pages 1247-1280, November.
    9. Ginarte, Juan C. & Park, Walter G., 1997. "Determinants of patent rights: A cross-national study," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 283-301, October.
    10. Shavell, Steven & van Ypersele, Tanguy, 2001. "Rewards versus Intellectual Property Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 525-547, October.
    11. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1996. "Protecting Early Innovators: Should Second-Generation Products Be Patentable?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(2), pages 322-331, Summer.
    12. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
    13. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
    14. Michael Kremer, 1997. "Patent Buy-Outs: A Mechanism for Encouraging Innovation," NBER Working Papers 6304, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Michael Kremer, 1998. "Patent Buyouts: A Mechanism for Encouraging Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1137-1167.
    16. Scherer, F M, 1972. "Nordhaus' Theory of Optimal Patent Life: A Geometric Reinterpretation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(3), pages 422-427, June.
    17. George Akerlof, 1976. "The Economics of Caste and of the Rat Race and Other Woeful Tales," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 599-617.
    18. Walter G. Park & Juan Carlos Ginarte, 1997. "Intellectual Property Rights And Economic Growth," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(3), pages 51-61, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7478. 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: (). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.