Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/182510
Authors: 
Billington, Stephen D.
Year of Publication: 
2018
Series/Report no.: 
QUCEH Working Paper Series 2018-10
Abstract: 
Ascertaining whether patents encourage invention necessitates understanding the incentives inventors respond to. The British patent system prior to its reform in 1852 was cumbersome and expensive. Whether it facilitated or delayed the Industrial Revolution is hotly debated. This paper's contribution is to examine the incentives to patent, and the characteristics of patentees, by observing the entire population of British patents granted up to the patent reforms of 1852. I find inventors patented widely because they had valuable inventions. Their value was positively associated with the skills and wealth of patentees. Inventors responded to demand-side conditions, and the system's expense did not hinder invention.
Subjects: 
Incentives
Innovation
Patents
Patent Quality
Industrial Revolution
JEL: 
N74
O31
O34
Document Type: 
Working Paper
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