Foreign Direct Investments and Intellectual Property Rights. International Intangible Assets in Spain circa 1820–1939
In this paper, we reflect on the links between the origin and rate of foreign direct investments (FDI) and the granting of intellectual property rights (IPRs) to foreigners in Spain during the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. Our main hypothesis is that the two issues were strongly related during the extension of industrialization in Europe, although distinct interests and goals could have led to different investment and IPR strategies. This was true during the whole period studied, and especially after 1880, when the first globalization emerged, progressively favoring corporative transnational investments and international agreements on IPRs. During both centuries, foreign investors from several North Atlantic countries flooded the Spanish economy, taking thousands of patents and trademarks. Based on outstanding data on FDI and foreign IPRs in Spain, the scope of this complex relation is explored. In doing so, our hypothesis is confirmed and distinct international strategies and performances in the Spanish economy disentangled. Thus, our study provides a better understanding: 1) of the spread of international capitalism and multinationals, 2) of the competition among pioneers and first followers in the international markets, and 3) of the role of IPRs in that process. Our findings also shed light on the current debates regarding the relation of international investments and the protection of intangible assets in today’s global markets.
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