Inventors, patents, and inventive activities in the english brewing industry, 1634-1850

Alessandro Nuvolari, James Sumner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article examines the relationship between patents, appropriability strategies, and market for technology in the English brewing industry before 1850. Previous research has pointed to the apparent paradox that large-scale brewing in this period showed both a self-aware culture of rapid technological innovation and a remarkably low propensity to patent. Our study records how brewery innovators pursued a wide variety of highly distinct appropriability strategies, including secrecy, selective revealing, open innovation and knowledge-sharing for reputational reasons, and patenting. All these strategies could co-exist, although some brewery insiders maintained a suspicion of the promoters of patent technologies, which faded only in the nineteenth century. Furthermore, we find evidence that sophisticated strategies of selective revealing could support trade in inventions even without the use of the patent system. © 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)95-120
    Number of pages25
    JournalBusiness History Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - May 2013


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