The Decline of the Independent Inventor: a schumpeterian Story? by



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Notes and Sources: Patents/Population are annual rates of patenting per million residents. The percent of patents assigned (which comes from our three cross-sectional samples for 1870-71, 1890-91, and 1910-11) are the proportion of patents that were assigned before the patent’s date of issue. Patent Attorneys/Population was computed as the ratio of the proportion of attorneys registered with the patent office who were located outside of the District of Columbia to the proportion of the U.S. population. The data are from U.S. Patent Office, Names and Addresses of Attorneys Practicing Before the United States Patent Office (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1883 and 1905).

Table 2
Distribution of patents by Patentee Commitment to
P
atenting, 1790-1911






Number of “Career” Patents by Patentee

























1 Patent

2 Patents

3 Patents

4-5 Patents

6-9 Patents

10+ Patents




%

%

%

%

%

%




















1790-1811

51.0

19.0

12.0

7.6

7.0

3.5






















1812-1829

57.5

17.4

7.1

7.6

5.5

4.9






















1830-1842

57.4

16.5


8.1

8.0

5.6

4.4






















1870-1871

21.1

12.5

9.9

15.8

11.8

28.9






















1890-1891

19.5

10.3

10.3

10.3

13.8

35.9




















1910-1911

33.2

14.3

8.2

9.8

9.4

25.0

Notes and Sources: The figures from 1790 to 1842 are drawn from Kenneth L. Sokoloff and B. Zorina Khan, “The Democratization of Invention During Early Industrialization: Evidence from the United States, 1790-1846,” Journal of Economic History, 50 (June 1990), pp. 363-78. The figures for the later years were computed from our longitudinal “B” data set. This data set consists of patents awarded to the 561 patentees whose surnames began with the letter “B” and who appeared in three random samples drawn from the Annual Reports of the Commissioner of Patents for 1870-71, 1890-91, and 1910-11. We estimated the total number of career patents of each patentee by searching the Annual Reports for the twenty-five years preceding and succeeding their appearance in a sample. Because our sampling ratios decreased are higher for the earlier than the later cross-sections, these figures may slightly overstate the increase in specialization that occurred between the first three and last three time periods. However, because the method used to gather the career patenting totals for the early-nineteenth-century inventors was likely to be a bit more comprehensive than that used for the latter periods (especially 1910-11), there is a slight bias in the other direction as well.

Table 3
Assignment Rates at Issue of “B” Patentees by Career Productivity

Career Patent Total for Patentee


Subsamples 1-2 Patents 3-5 Patents 6-9 Patents 10+ Patents
1870-71

mean career patents 1.6 4.1 7.3 28.3

% assigned at issue 17.6 11.4 12.3 24.7

% assigned to companies 1.5 1.4 4.1 8.9



n 68 140 122 749
1890-91

mean career patents 1.5 3.9 7.7 61.0

% assigned at issue 27.1 28.7 39.4 54.4

% assigned to companies 12.9 7.0 17.0 40.5



n 70 129 188 2060
1910-11

mean career patents 1.5 4.0 7.1 107.4

% assigned at issue 15.0 22.0 42.5 62.4

% assigned to companies 3.8 7.7 30.8 56.2



n 133 155 120 1860

Notes and Sources: These estimates were computed for the 545 “B” patents who were residents of the United States at some time during their careers. They include all of the patents these patentees received while living in the U.S. For details on the “B” sample, see Table 2.
Table 4
Contractual Mobility and Career Productivity of “B” Patentees:

Distributions of Patents and Patentees

Career Patent Total for Patentee

1-2 Pats 3-5 Pats 6-9 Pats 10+ Pats n




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