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Institutions and Agents of Technological Diffusion in 19th Century Spain


  • Pretel, David

    () (Trinity Hall. University of Cambridge)

  • Saiz, Patricio

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


Although some recent studies have provided fresh intellectual insights on the role of patent practitioners during the nineteenth century, they have largely overlooked the activity of these actors in international patenting and peripheral countries. This study will fill a gap in the existing scholarship through an examination of the role and influence of patent agents in Spain from the introduction of the country’s first modern intellectual property law in 1826 to the regulation of agents’ practice in 1902. The study explores the range of activities carried out by those individuals employed by Spanish and foreign patentees to deal with both the patent application process and the commercialisation of property rights. Our argument here is that a focus on patent agents and other forms of agency can provide us with a better understanding of processes of invention, innovation and technology transfer in the European periphery during the nineteenth century. The history of technology in the periphery requires attention not only to the incentives for innovation but also to the social procedure of transmission of knowledge, ideas and information as well as the actors involved in this activity. Our focus cannot be solely on the transfer and communication of knowledge and information from advanced industrial nations to ‘backward’ ones; it must also include the processes of interaction, exchange and appropriation that occurred in both directions.

Suggested Citation

  • Pretel, David & Saiz, Patricio, 2011. "Institutions and Agents of Technological Diffusion in 19th Century Spain," Working Papers in Economic History 2011/05, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), Department of Economic Analysis (Economic Theory and Economic History).
  • Handle: RePEc:uam:wpapeh:201105

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gerard Turnbull, 1987. "Canals, coal and regional growth during the industrial revolution," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 40(4), pages 537-560, November.
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    More about this item


    agency; agents; patents; technology transfer.;

    JEL classification:

    • N73 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • 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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