The Democratization of Invention: Patents and Copyrights in American Economic Development, 1790-1920

The Democratization of Invention: Patents and Copyrights in American Economic Development, 1790-1920

by B. Zorina Khan


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An Examination of the evolution and impact of American intellectual property rights during the 'long nineteenth century,' this book compares the American system to developments in the more oligarchic societies of France and Britain. The United States created the first modern patent system and its policies were the most liberal in the world toward inventors. Individuals who did not have the resources to directly exploit their inventions benefited disproportionately from secure property rights and the operation of efficient markets. When markets expanded, these inventors contributed to the proliferation of new technologies and improvements. In contrast to its leadership in the area of patents, the US copyright regime was among the weakest in the world, in keeping with its utilitarian objective of promoting the general welfare. American patent and copyright institutions promoted a process of democratization that not only furthered economic and technological progress but also provided a conduit for the creativity and achievements of disadvantaged groups.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521747202
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 01/12/2009
Series: NBER Series on Long-Term Factors in Economic Development
Pages: 342
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

B. Zorina Khan is Professor of Economics at Bowdoin College. Her research focuses on the economic history of law, technology, and institutions. She has written articles for journals such as the Journal of Economic History and the American Economic Review. She is on the Editorial board of the Journal of Economic History and is a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. The patent system in Europe and America; 3. Patent laws and litigation; 4. Democratization and patented inventions; 5. Women inventors in America; 6. Patentees and married women's property rights; 7. Great inventors and democratic invention; 8. Copyright in Europe and America; 9. American copyright law; 10. Intellectual property and economic development.

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