How do patent laws influence innovation? Evidence from nineteenth-century world's fairs

  • Moser P
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JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Studies of innovation have focused on the effects of patent laws on the number of innovations, but have ignored effects on the direction of technological change. This paper introduces a new dataset of close to fifteen thousand innovations at the Crystal Palace World's Fair in 1851 and at the Centennial Exhibition in 1876 to examine the effects of patent laws on the direction of innovation. The paper tests the following argument: if innovative activity is motivated by expected profits, and if the effectiveness of patent protection varies across industries, then innovation in coun-tries without patent laws should focus on industries where alternative mechanisms to protect intellectual property are effective. Analyses of exhibition data for 12 countries in 1851 and 10 countries in 1876 indicate that inventors in countries

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  • Petra Moser

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