Catching-Up and Falling Behind - Knowledge Spillover from American to German Machine Tool Makers

29 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2009 Last revised: 13 Dec 2009

See all articles by Ralf Richter

Ralf Richter

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jochen Streb

University of Mannheim

Date Written: December 1, 2009

Abstract

In our days, German machine tool makers accuse their Chinese competitors of violating patent rights and illegally imitating German technology. A century ago, however, German machine tool makers used exactly the same methods to imitate American technology. To understand the dynamics of this catching-up process we use patent statistics to analyze firms’ activities between 1877 and 1932. We show that German machine tool makers successfully deployed imitating and counterfeiting activities in the late 19th century and the 1920s to catch-up to their American competitors. The German administration supported this strategy by stipulating a patent law that discriminated against foreign patent holders and probably also by delaying the granting of patents to foreign applicants. Parallel to the growing international competitiveness of German firms, however, the willingness to guarantee intellectual property rights of foreigners was also increasing because German firms had now to fear retaliatory measures in their own export markets when violating foreign property rights within Germany.

Keywords: Catching-Up, Imitation, Machine Tools, Patent

JEL Classification: N63, O31, O34

Suggested Citation

richter, ralf and Streb, Jochen, Catching-Up and Falling Behind - Knowledge Spillover from American to German Machine Tool Makers (December 1, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1516327 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1516327

Ralf Richter

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Jochen Streb (Contact Author)

University of Mannheim ( email )

L7, 3-5
Mannheim, 68131
Germany

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