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The Spanish Patent System. Origins, Characteristics and Evolution


  • Saiz, Patricio

    () (Departamento de Análisis Económico (Teoría e Historia Económica). Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)


The object of this study is to use documentation on patents as a partial technology indicator, and, above all, as an investment indicator in new technologies in order to analyze the formation, evolution and characterization of the Spanish technological system during the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. From our point of view, ceteris paribus, the decision to patent is based on the intuitive expectation of profits with the new technology –which is influenced both by economic growth itself and by marketing possibilities, as well as by institutional questions, such as the real possibility of enforcing the patent monopoly– and the cost of obtaining the monopoly -in monetary and institutional terms (the existence of required exams or the necessity of implementation, etc.). In general, as occurs in other types of capital investments, success is determined by multiple circumstances, which does not invalidate the possibility of studying the intensity and direction of investment activity. To accomplish that, we will attempt to a) characterize and analyze the Spanish institutional environment related to industrial property to measure the degree to which it supported innovative activity; b) explain the evolution of registries throughout the 19th century and discover the degree of foreign presence in the system; c) analyze the patents solicited by residents in Spanish territory to see whether their geographic distribution over time is related to the formation and integration of the national market; d) study the presence of firms in the system and what socio-professional activities the applicants were engaged in, which could help determine the degree of complexity of technology in Spain; e) describe how the investment processes in technologies were distributed within the economic structure of the country to discover in which sectors innovative activity was concentrated and if it coincided with what we know about the Spanish industrialization process; and finally, f) study the obligatory exploitation of patents and the duration of monopolies, to attempt to uncover data on the real effectiveness of the system in inducing innovation and the forces which brought this about.

Suggested Citation

  • Saiz, Patricio, 2001. "The Spanish Patent System. Origins, Characteristics and Evolution," Working Papers in Economic History 2002/01, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
  • Handle: RePEc:uam:wpapeh:200201

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    Patents; Intellectual Property Rights; Spanish Innovation System; Technological Change; Spanish Economic History;

    JEL classification:

    • N43 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • 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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