Industrialization Without National Patents: The Netherlands, 1869-1912; Switzerland, 1850-1907

Industrialization Without National Patents: The Netherlands, 1869-1912; Switzerland, 1850-1907

Eric Schiff
Copyright Date: 1971
Pages: 150
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  • Book Info
    Industrialization Without National Patents: The Netherlands, 1869-1912; Switzerland, 1850-1907
    Book Description:

    Eric Schiff analyzes two countries, widely known for their sophisticated industrial development, that are unique in having had no national patent protection for appreciable periods in their recent history.

    Originally published in 1971.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7100-1
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
    Eric Schiff
  4. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    In decades gone by, advocates of the patent system have relied on a variety of arguments. More recently, one argument has come to overshadow all others: the proposition that patents, by stimulating invention and innovation, promote industrial growth and thus contribute decisively to general well-being.

    “Property rights” of the inventor on his invention are still being talked about, but usually in the framework of the idea that in the public interest it is good policy to grant the inventor a privilege that can be thought of as a property right. The old doctrine that an invention gives its originator a...

  5. PART I. THE NETHERLANDS, 1869-1912
    • 2. Historical Background
      (pp. 19-24)

      In the 1860s there was widespread agreement in the Netherlands that the existing patent law, which had been in force practically unchanged since 1817, should be either repealed or thoroughly amended.¹ The law was a curious mixture of “too liberal” and “too restrictive.” On the “too liberal” side was the absence of any examination and of any obligation on the part of the applicant to describe his invention by specification, drawings, etc. The patented invention usually was not published before expiration of the patent (the term was 15 years), and sometimes it remained undisclosed even longer. This practice destroyed what...

    • 3. Industrial Development in the Netherlands, 1870-1914
      (pp. 25-41)

      The point we are attempting to resolve is the impact, if any, of the absence of a Dutch patent system on the industrial development of the Netherlands between 1869 and 1912. To prepare the ground for approaching this topic, which so far has been more or less bypassed by students of European economic history and students of the history of the patent system,¹ it is necessary to give a few general characteristics of Dutch economic development during those decades.

      In I. J. Brugmans’Paardekracht en Mensenmacht,² the most recent and, by general consensus, most authoritative major work on the Dutch...

    • 4. Inventive Activity Before and After 1912
      (pp. 42-51)

      The question raised at the end of Chapter 3 can be best approached by asking whether there is any evidence that the reintroduction of a patent system in 1912 has, by stimulating invention in the Netherlands, produced a shift from progress based on inventions originating in foreign countries to progress based on inventions originating at home. Statements in Dutch publications after the reintroduction have implied or suggested in general terms that there was such a shift.¹ Can this be corroborated by direct or indirect statistical evidence?

      Let us recall once more that even before 1912 Dutch inventors could and did...

    • 5. Two Dutch Industries During the Patentless Period
      (pp. 52-68)

      The start and the first growth of two great industries, margarine and incandescent lamps, took place in the Netherlands during the patentless period. The firms Jurgens and Van den Bergh, which were later amalgamated with an English firm into the giant Unilever concern, started producing margarine in the early 1870s as a venture into an entirely new field. The Philips firm, which later grew into a world concern with a widely diversified production in the electrical field, started in the early 1890s on a small scale, with production restricted to incandescent lamps. As the histories of the two industries in...

    • 6. Discussions Preceding the Reintroduction of a Patent System
      (pp. 69-82)

      Only a few years after the abolition of the patent system in the Netherlands the embattled patent advocates in various parts of Europe rallied for a counteroffensive and made enough of a comeback to prevent all other countries that had patent laws from following the Dutch example.¹ In the changed general climate it was natural that in the Netherlands suggestions for a re-introduction of a patent system on a modernized basis should have cropped up soon.

      In 1886 an Association of Advocates of a Dutch Patent Law (Vereeniging van Voorstanders van een Nederlandsche Octrooiwet) was founded.² Opposition was vigorous, especially...

  6. PART II. SWITZERLAND, 1850-1907
    • 7. Historical Background
      (pp. 85-95)

      In Switzerland the introduction of a national patent system after a long period without any such system, was much more “piecemeal” than in the Netherlands. There, the first legislative step, in 1912, marked the decisive turning point. In Switzerland, the first step was so hesitant that one may even ask whether the year 1888, in which the step was taken, or the year 1907 (first revision of the patent law) should be regarded as the beginning of the patent era. The road that led to the patent system of 1907 was one of the longest and most arduous Swiss legislation...

    • 8. Industrialization in Switzerland During the Patentless Era
      (pp. 96-106)

      For a surprisingly long time there persisted in some parts of Europe a curious popular image of the Swiss as, by and large, a nation of shepherds, innkeepers, and watchmakers. There is a psychological explanation for the long persistence of this strange image. Itisamazing that Switzerland during the nineteenth century was able to build up quite a number of nonagricultural industries, on a large scale and technically well developed, some of them even taking the lead in Europe and becoming world famous—all this in the midst of, and in competition with, nations far greater and incomparably better...

    • 9. Inventions and the Patent Problem
      (pp. 107-120)

      The topic of the preceding section was the impact of the prolonged absence of a Swiss patent law on the rate of growth and diversification in Swiss industry. Our present topic is the impact of this absence on the degree to which the growth and diversification that did occur was propelled by inventive activity in the country.

      In Part I of this study we approached the problem for the Netherlands by raising two questions: (1) Was the patentless period one of outstanding inventions? (2) What was the relative importance of Dutch versus foreign inventions during that period, as compared with...

    • 10. Concluding Observations
      (pp. 121-126)

      We have surveyed two countries, the Netherlands and Switzerland, which for several decades were without a national patent system while nearly all other industrial countries had patent laws on their statute books. These other countries granted patents to all applicants, including Dutch and Swiss applicants, who met the requirements of those laws. We have compared developments in the two countries with simultaneous developments in patent-granting countries, as well as with developments in the two surveyed countries later on, when they, too, had enacted patent laws. In the light of this historical survey, what is the importance, for a country in...

  7. Appendix: Derivation of the Data Underlying Figures 1 to 5
    (pp. 127-130)
  8. Index
    (pp. 131-137)