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


Panel A: Distributions of Patents



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Panel A: Distributions of Patents

No Assignees row% 23.8 25.3 15.2 35.8 875

col% 76.8 52.1 30.9 6.7 15.1%

1 Assignee row% 6.1 15.0 9.2 69.8 1042

col% 23.3 36.8 22.3 15.6 18.0%

2-3 Different row% - 2.4 8.1 89.6 1781

Assignees col% - 9.9 33.5 34.2 15.8%

4+ Different row% - 0.2 2.7 97.0 2096

Assignees col% - 1.2 13.3 43.6 36.2%


n 271 424 430 4669 5794

4.7% 7.3% 7.4% 80.6%

Panel B: Distributions of Patentees

No Assignees row% 59.9 22.5 7.5 10.1 267

col% 78.8 53.6 32.3 16.1 49.9%

1 Assignee row% 32.3 30.1 10.5 27.1 133

col% 21.2 35.7 22.6 21.4 24.4%
2-3 Different row% - 12.8 24.4 62.8 86

Assignees col% - 9.8 33.9 32.1 15.8%

4+ Different row% - 1.7 11.9 86.4 59

Assignees col% - 0.9 11.3 30.4 10.8%


n 203 112 62 168 545

37.3% 20.6% 11.4% 30.8%
Notes and Sources: See Table 3. Panel A presents the distribution of all of the patents the patentees obtained over their careers and Panel B presents the distribution for one patent per patentee, where the patent is selected randomly from the patentee’s record. Only assignments at issue are included in the figures.

Table 5


Contractual Mobility of “Great Inventors”
number of different assignees over career

Birth Cohort no assignees 1 assignee 2 assignees 3 assignees 4 assignees 5 or more assignees n

(row %) (row %) (row %) (row %) (row %) (row %)

1820 to 1839

inventors 20.0 22.9 31.4 11.4 8.6 5.7 35

patents 17.2 16.4 32.5 17.0 10.6 6.4 548


1840 to 1859

inventors 8.1 24.3 32.4 2.7 18.9 13.5 37

patents 6.1 14.0 25.1 1.5 18.9 34.5 1117
1860 to 1885

inventors 4.2 37.5 8.3 16.7 8.3 25.0 24

patents 2.3 34.1 5.4 11.3 5.5 41.4 815
All Cohorts

inventors 11.5 27.1 26.0 9.4 12.5 13.5 96

patents 7.3 21.1 20.2 8.2 12.7 30.5 2480


Notes and Sources: The sample of “great inventors” encompasses all of the 249 individuals recognized as important inventors in the Dictionary of American Biography who were born after 1819 and before 1886 and who were active in the U.S. For each person (248 men and 1 woman), we collected biographical information as well as roughly a 20 percent sample of the patents he/she were ever awarded (all patents received before 1847, and then one out of every five years from 1850 through 1930). Here we report the distributions computed over the 96 great inventors for whom we have sampled ten or more patents. Because we have only sampled one fifth of the patents on average and are confining our analysis to assignments at issue, we are underestimating the full extent of contractual mobility.

Table 6


Regional Patterns of Migration by the Great Inventors

Birth Cohort 1820-1839

Region of Residence at Date of Patent



Region of Birth

New England

Mid-Atlantic

Midwest

Other U.S.

Foreign

Total

New England

#

row %


col %

306

73.4


80.7

83

19.9


21.9

25

6.0


24.8

3

0.7


8.6

-

-

-



417
46.5

Mid-Atlantic

#

row %


col %

35

12.2


9.2

220

76.4

58.1


29

10.1


28.7

4

1.4


11.4

-

-

-



288
32.1

Midwest

#

row %


col %

-

-

-



11

26.8


2.9

21

51.2


20.8

9

27.0


25.7

3

7.3


100

41
4.6

Other U.S.

#

row %


col %

2

18.2


0.5

2

18.2


0.5

-

-

-



7

63.6


20.0

-

-

-



11
1.2

Foreign


#

row %


col %

36

25.7


9.5

63

45.0


16.6

26

18.6


25.7

15

10.7


42.9

-

-

-



140
15.6

Total

#

row %


379

42.3


379

42.3


101

11.3


35

3.9


3

0.3


897




Birth Cohort 1840-1859

Region of Residence at Date of Patent



Region of Birth

New England

Mid-Atlantic


Midwest

Other U.S.

Foreign

Total

New England

#

row %


col %

51

27.9


17.9

94

51.4


15.1

9

4.9


2.9

4

2.2


6.4

25

13.7


78.1

183
13.9

Mid-Atlantic

#

row %

col %

30

12.7


10.5

149

63.1


23.9

51

21.6


16.3

2

0.9


3.2

4

1.7

12.5


236
17.9

Midwest

#

row %

col %

3

0.8


1.1

207

53.6


33.2

167

43.3


53.4

7

1.8


11.1

2

0.5


6.3

386
29.3

Other U.S.

#

row %

col %

1

1.8


0.4

9

16.4


1.4

8

14.6


2.6

37

67.3


58.7

-

-

-



55
4.2

Foreign


#

row %

col %

200

43.9


70.2

164

36.0


26.3

78

17.1


24.9

13

2.9


20.6

1

0.2


3.1

456
34.7

Total

#

row %

285

21.7


623

47.3


313

23.8


63

4.8


32

2.4


1316



Birth Cohort 1860-1885

Region of Residence at Date of Patent

Region of Birth





New England

Middle

Atlantic

Midwest

Other U.S.

Foreign

Total

New England

#

row %

col %

58

27.0


43.3

156

72.6


25.8

1

0.5


0.8

-

-

-



-

-

-



215
23.5

Middle Atlantic

#

row %

col %

42

11.3


31.3

286

76.7


47.4

40

10.7


33.1

5

1.3


8.8

-

-

-

373
40.7


Midwest

#

row %

col %

2

1.4


1.5

43

29.1


7.1

78

52.7


64.5

25

16.9


43.9

-

-

-



148
16.2

Other U.S.

#

row %

col %

-

-

-



7

43.8


1.2

0

0.0


0.0

9

56.3


15.8

-

-

-



16
1.75

Foreign

#

row %

col %

32

19.5


23.9

112

68.3


18.5

2

1.2


1.7

18

11.0


31.6

-

-

-



164
17.9

Total

#

row %

134

14.6


604

65.9


121

13.2


57

6.2


-

-


916



Notes and Sources: See Table 5 and the text.

Table 7


Changes in the Distribution of Patents in the “B” Sample by Region
and Number of Career Patents






Categories of Patentees by Career Patents



1-2 Patents


3-5 Patents

6-9 Patents

10+ Patents




Region

(Row %)

(Row %)

(Row %)

(Row %)

n

New England
















1870-71 subsample

5.0

6.5

12.4

76.1

322

1890-91 subsample

1.8

4.7

6.0

87.6

555

1910-11 subsample

2.6

2.9


2.6

91.9

383

Middle Atlantic
















1870-71 subsample

6.2

16.1

12.4

65.2

434

1890-91 subsample

2.2

4.3

5.3

88.2

947

1910-11 subsample

5.8

9.8

3.7

80.7

601

East North Central














1870-71 subsample

9.2

15.6

6.9

68.4

218

1890-91 subsample

3.8

6.9

10.9

78.4

707

1910-11 subsample

4.6

4.4

6.2

84.9

1050

Other U.S.
















1870-71 subsample

4.8

14.3


12.4

68.6

105

1890-91 subsample

5.0

5.5

11.8

77.7

238

1910-11 subsample

17.1

16.7

9.8

56.4

234



















U.S. Total
















1870-71 subsample

6.3

13.0

11.3

69.4


1079

1890-91 subsample

2.9

5.3

7.7

84.2

2447

1910-11 subsample

5.9

6.8

5.3

82.0

2268


Notes and Sources: See Tables 2 and 3.

Table 8


Changes in the Contractual Mobility of “B” Patentees, By Region






Region of Patentee



Number of Assignees


at Issue

New England

(Col. %)


Middle Atlantic
(Col. %)

East North Central
(Col. %)

Other
U.S.

(Col. %)




n

No Assignees
















1870-71 subsample

51.2

64.8

60.5

57.1

87

1890-91 subsample

25.7

42.4

36.7

41.7

69

1910-11 subsample

34.8

48.4

55.0

60.4

111

1 Assignee













1870-71 subsample


39.0

18.5

26.3

14.3

38

1890-91 subsample

28.6

12.1

38.3

33.3

49

1910-11 subsample

17.4

29.0

13.8

27.1

46

2-3 Different Assignees















1870-71 subsample

2.4

9.3

5.3

21.4

11

1890-91 subsample


25.7

25.8

16.7

12.5

39

1910-11 subsample

34.8

12.9

18.8

10.4

36

4+ Different Assignees















1870-71 subsample

7.3

7.4

7.9

7.1

11

1890-91 subsample

20.0

19.7

8.3

12.5

28

1910-11 subsample

13.0


9.7

12.5

2.1

20



















# of Patentees (n)
















1870-71 subsample

41

54

38

14

147

1890-91 subsample

35

66

60

24

185

1910-11 subsample

23

62

80

48

213

Notes and Sources: See Tables 2 and 3. Each inventor is represented in the table by one patent that was randomly selected from the patentee’s record.

Table 9
Changes in the Distribution of Patents in the “B” Sample by Type of
Assignment at Issue and Number of Career Patents





Categories of Patentees by Career Patents

Type of Assignment

1-2 Patents
(Col. %)

3-5 Patents
(Col. %)

6-9 Patents
(Col. %)

10+ Patents
(Col. %)

Not Assigned













1870-71 subsample

82.4

88.6

87.7

75.3

1890-91 subsample

72.9

70.5

60.6

45.6

1910-11 subsample


85.0

78.1

57.5

37.6

Assig. Share to Individ.













1870-71 subsample

10.3

3.6

4.1

5.5

1890-91 subsample

10.0

11.6

12.8

3.9

1910-11 subsample

7.5

6.5

5.8

2.6

Assig. in Full to Individ.












1870-71 subsample


2.9

5.0

2.5

8.8

1890-91 subsample

2.9

8.5

6.4

9.6

1910-11 subsample

1.5

3.2

1.7

3.0

Assigned to Company with Same Name













1870-71 subsample

0.0

0.0

0.0

1.7

1890-91 subsample

0.0

1.6

3.7


6.1

1910-11 subsample

0.0

0.0

5.8

23.5

Assigned to Large Integrated Company













1870-71 subsample

0.0

0.0

0.8

1.2

1890-91 subsample

1.4

0.0

0.5

9.9

1910-11 subsample

0.0

1.9

0.0

14.1

Assigned to Other Local Company














1870-71 subsample

1.5

0.7

2.5

4.5

1890-91 subsample

10.0

3.9

5.3

15.9

1910-11 subsample

1.5

3.9

15.8

8.0

Assigned to Other Non-Local Companies













1870-71 subsample

2.9

2.1

2.5

2.9


1890-91 subsample

4.3

3.9

10.6

9.0

1910-11 subsample

3.9

6.5

13.3

6.7
















Number of Patents (n)













1870-71 subsample

68

140

122

749

1890-91 subsample

80

129

188

2060

1910-11 subsample


133

155

120

1860

Notes and Sources: See Tables 2 and 3.

Table 10
Change over Birth Cohorts in the Types of Assignments at Issue made by Great Inventors


Assignment Type
Birth Cohort Not Assigned Individual Family-Name Large Integrated Other n

Company Company Company



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