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Archived updates for Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Patent Laws Change Quality, Not Quantity, of Innovation?

After reviewing catalogues of two 19th century world fairs -- the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London, 1851, and the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, 1876 - Petra Moser found "no evidence that patent laws increased levels of innovative activity but strong evidence that patent systems influenced the distribution of innovative activity across industries. Inventors in countries without patent laws concentrated in industries where secrecy was effective relative to patents, e.g., food processing and scientific instruments." These results suggested to her that introducing strong and effective patent laws in countries without patents may have stronger effects on changing the direction of innovative activity, than on raising the number of innovations.

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