, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 49–78 | Cite as

Did patents of introduction encourage technology transfer? Long-term evidence from the Spanish innovation system

  • Patricio Sáiz
Original Paper


In this article, we reflect on how patents of introduction or importation, which compose an institutional policy related to weak IPR systems, could influence long-term international technology transfer. Both theoretically and empirically, the consequences of strengthening IPRs in lagging economies for technology transfer and innovation remain unclear. Although the mainstream literature tends to link stronger patent enforcement with better invention and innovation markets now and in the past, new theoretical and historical evidence supports extreme complexity in the relationship between IPR extension and scope and technological diffusion. For the first time, in this study, we analyze a large series of patents of introduction, which were a common feature of the early stages of almost all patent systems designed to favor technology transfer and innovation above original inventor property rights. Though typically used by pioneers, followers, and latecomers, we know little of how they functioned and their consequences. In this study, we analyze the use of patents of introduction throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Spain, which was a lagging country on the European periphery. The results demonstrate that this institutional policy could facilitate technology transfer, innovation, and advancement at earlier stages of industrialization. As additional research has demonstrated, such evidence may have serious implications for IPR treatment in both developing and underdeveloped economies.


IPR institutions Patents of introduction Technology transfer European periphery 

JEL Classification

N43 N44 N73 N74 O31 O34 O38 



I would like to acknowledge research funding from the following sources: the Collaboration agreement between the Oficina Española de Patentes y Marcas and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid for cataloguing and studying the historical documentation of patents and trademarks (1999–2012) as well as The British Academy International Networks (2003–2008) ‘Patents in history: Studies in the patterns and institutions of technological change and transfer.’ I would also like to acknowledge very useful comments from anonymous referees, Jose Luis Zofío-Prieto, Inmaculada Álvarez-Ayuso, and very especially Rocío Sánchez-Mangas, whose selfless help significantly contributed to improving the original draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Análisis Económico: Teoría Económica e Historia EconómicaUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

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