Patent Costs and the Value of Inventions: Explaining Patenting Behaviour between England, Ireland and Scotland, 1617-1852
Stephen Billington (Queen's University Belfast)
The Institute of Economics will hold one of the meetings of its Seminar Series on Tuesday, March 13, 2018: Stephen Billington, from the Queen's University of Belfast, will present the paper Patent Costs and the Value of Inventions: Explaining Patenting Behaviour between England, Ireland and Scotland, 1617-1852.
This paper argues that patenting behaviour is responsive to demand-side incentives, and the quality of patents is a function of inventors' occupations. In particular, it examines patenting behaviour under the expensive, fragmented British patent system in the period 1617 to 1852. This system was comprised of separate offices for England and Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, where the cost of complete UK-wide protection could be up to 11 times the annual wage of the average British worker. Patentees had to decide ex ante where to patent in the UK; once the patent was sealed in one region, further UK protection could not be obtained. By matching the historical population of patents granted across the UK's three patent jurisdictions, the paper finds that inventors whose patents are of a higher ex post quality were more likely to have chosen ex ante to protect their invention in multiple regions. Likewise, the paper shows that patenting in multiple jurisdictions is associated with inventors of a higher social status. Inventors of a higher social status are also found to be more closely associated with higher ex post patent quality.