Do Legal Differences Matter? A Comparison of German Patent Law Regimes Before 1877
Forthcoming in: Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte / Economic History Yearbook, 2019
39 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018
Date Written: August 10, 2018
In this paper, we give an overview of the differences in German patent legislations between 1815 and 1876. German patent laws differed in particular with regard to the application and approval system, the treatment of foreign applicants, and patent fees. Differences in the former two categories provide an explanation why the number of patents was considerably lower in Prussia than in other states. While the number of Prussian patents per capita almost stagnated between 1840 and 1872, it increased in Baden, Bavaria and Saxony. Formal differences in patent law do not fully explain this pattern, but the Prussian patent policy. The Prussian patent authority set high barriers to get a patent by applying a thorough technical examination and a strict definition of novelty. Furthermore, we show that states using a registration system granted a considerably higher number of patents than states with technical examinations.
Keywords: Innovation, Intellectual Property, Patents, Patent Law, Technological Change
JEL Classification: K11, N43, N73, O14, O3
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