2010/04 LEM Working Paper Series

Patents and Industrialization: An Historical Overview of the British Case, 1624-1907

Christine MacLeod, Alessandro Nuvolari
patents, innovation, Industrial Revolution, economic growth

  JEL Classifications
N73, O34

The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the research on the role played by patent systems in the industrialization process (with a special focus on the British case). Perhaps surprisingly, no consensus has been reached yet as to whether the emergence of modern patent systems exerted a favourable impact on inventive activities. However, the recent literature has shed light on a number of fundamental factors which affect the links between inventive activities and the patent system. The concluding section of the paper outlines some "history lessons" for the current debate on the role of patent in economic development.

download pdf