Patent Pools and the Direction of Innovation - Evidence from the 19th-century Sewing Machine Industry

Ryan L. Lampe, Petra Moser

NBER Working Paper No. 17573
Issued in November 2011
NBER Program(s):   DAE   IO   PR

Patent pools allow a group of firms to combine their patents as if they were a single firm. Theoretical models predict that pools encourage innovation in pool technologies, albeit at the cost of innovation in substitutes. Empirical evidence is scarce because modern pools are too recent to allow empirical analyses. This article examines data on patents and innovations by new firms for a historical pool in the sewing machine industry (1856-1877) to examine effects on innovation. Contrary to theoretical predictions, this analysis suggests that pools may discourage innovation in pool technologies and shift R&D towards technologically inferior substitutes.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17573

Published: “Patent Pools and Innovation in Substitute Technologies – Evidence from the U.S. Sewing Machine Industry” (with Ryan Lampe) RAND Journal of Economics, 2014, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp. 757-778.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Lampe and Moser w18316 Do Patent Pools Encourage Innovation? Evidence from 20 U.S. Industries under the New Deal
Lampe and Moser w15061 Do Patent Pools Encourage Innovation? Evidence from the 19th-Century Sewing Machine Industry
Hall and Harhoff w17773 Recent Research on the Economics of Patents
Benabou and Tirole w17579 Laws and Norms
Arkolakis w17553 A Unified Theory of Firm Selection and Growth
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us