The Emergence of Markets for Technology : Patent Transfers and Patenting in Sweden, 1819–1914

Abstract: This thesis is concerned with the emergence of markets for technology and studies the evolution of patent transfers and its determinants, patent agencies and independent versus firm patenting in Sweden during the 19th century and the turn of 20th century. It explores how and why markets for technology emerge and under what circumstances by investigating the evolution of Swedish patent legislation and the patterns of patent transfers between individuals and firms. It presents a three-pronged framework studying: structure and actors, technology and transactions.Using a new and unique database covering every Swedish privilege and patent over the 1819–1914 period the empirical analysis reveals that although the transferability of intellectual property goes all the way back to the 18th century patent transfers did not start to increase significantly until the first modern Swedish patent law was passed in 1884. Along with the new law a market for patenting services also emerged where actors such as patent agents and the firms they founded, patent agencies, functioned as intermediaries in the market for patents and international networks of patenting. A few older patent agencies managed to create an oligopolistic setting where they introduced price controls through special interest groups.The thesis also questions the current dichotomous classification of independent and firm patenting. The methodological contribution lies in showing that research that depend too much on patent statistics run the risk of underestimating the importance of the firm when patents granted to individuals actually cover inventive activities that has taken place inside the boundaries of firms.Finally, the study shows that special marketplaces for the sale of patented and unpatented technology were created to help inventors find buyers and financiers for their invention and to help firms find new technology. The patent law of 1884 made it possible to trade in several submarkets of technology where the right to patent a certain invention could be bought, ideas could be financed, pending patent applications or the priority right to foreign markets could be bought and sold.The results lend support to the research emphasizing the role of intellectual property as a disclosure and diffusion mechanism for new technology.

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