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The Democratization of Invention
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  • Page extent: 342 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.67 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 346.7304/8
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: KF2979 .K48 2005
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Intellectual property--Economic aspects--United States--History
    • Copyright--Economic aspects--United States--History
    • Patents--Economic aspects--United States--History
    • Inventions--Economic aspects--United States--History
    • Democracy--United States--History

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521811354 | ISBN-10: 052181135X)

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published September 2005

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$98.00 (P)

An Examination of the evolution and impact of American intellectual property rights during the 'long nineteenth century,' this book compares the American system to developments in the more oligarchic societies of France and Britain. The United States created the first modern patent system and its policies were the most liberal in the world toward inventors. Individuals who did not have the resources to directly exploit their inventions benefited disproportionately from secure property rights and the operation of efficient markets. When markets expanded, these inventors contributed to the proliferation of new technologies and improvements. In contrast to its leadership in the area of patents, the US copyright regime was among the weakest in the world, in keeping with its utilitarian objective of promoting the general welfare. American patent and copyright institutions promoted a process of democratization that not only furthered economic and technological progress but also provided a conduit for the creativity and achievements of disadvantaged groups.


1. Introduction; 2. The patent system in Europe and America; 3. Patent laws and litigation; 4. Democratization and patented inventions; 5. Women inventors in America; 6. Patentees and married women's property rights; 7. Great inventors and democratic invention; 8. Copyright in Europe and America; 9. American copyright law; 10. Intellectual property and economic development.

Prize Winner

Co-Winner of the Alice Hanson Jones Prize of the Economic History Association 2006


"Given the widespread appeal to history in modern judicial opinions, academic articles, and public policy debates, such empirical work is important. Historians and economists may dispute some of her methods or conclusions, but such debates about the historical facts will be a welcome change to the ascendancy of rhetoric on such subjects. Khan's work is an important contribution to our discourse about American patent law and its historical development." - Adam Mossoff, Michigan State University

"In an era when human genes are patentable and 'digital rights management' precludes fair-use copying of MP3s, Khan's historical analysis of American IP institutions provides an important long-term perspective on current issues."
Eric S. Hintz, Technology and Culture

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