Nineteenth-Century American Patent Management as an Invisible College of Technology

  • Carolyn C. Cooper


History of technology in the post-medieval Western world has to be a history that deals with dynamic change, one that attempts to explain how positive feedback took place among increasingly integrated material and social systems, so that technological change became not an occasional, but an incessant, event. Since the concept of intellectual property protected by patents for invention emerged in history at the same time as this increasing dynamism of technology, it is tempting to assume there is some connection between the two.1 On that assumption, students of technological change have frequently viewed patents as incentives to invent or as a measure of invention. This chapter does not debate the validity of those views, but attempts to outline quite a different feature of a patent system in action: as an institution it elicits behaviour aimed at patent management, which in turn acts as an invisible college of technology, in which learning stimulates further technological change.


National Archive Patent System Patent Office Patented Invention Invisible College 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Ross Thomson 1993

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  • Carolyn C. Cooper

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