RSSE: John Howells (UCL) The Chilling Effect of Government intervention on Early US Radio Technology Development

Start: Thursday 16. Nov 2023, 12:45
End: Thursday 16. Nov 2023, 14:15
Place: RB 437
Contact person: Michaela Zemanová
Tags: #doktorandi #research #rsse #studenti #zamestnanci

It is our pleasure that dr. John Howells (Aarhus University) will present on Thursday, November 16, 2023, at 12:45 in room RB437 about his research on the topic “The Chilling Effect of Government intervention on Early US Radio Technology Development”.

ABSTRACT: We exploit a little known natural economic experiment in which prevailing law and the April 6, 1917 US government ban on civil radio use rendered the government the single user in the market and radio patents unenforceable for over two years. To test whether these events significantly affected radio development we compile a novel dataset of triode vacuum tube patents for 1904-1924. Our difference-in-difference method compares radio triode patenting versus a control of non-radio triode patenting. Our statistical analysis finds that US triode radio patenting and so development were retarded when government was the single buyer and radio patents unenforceable. We also test a prevailing view that as a result of a 1916 court decision early vacuum tube and radio development were retarded to be alleviated by the 1919 formation of RCA (Radio Corporation of America). We find no empirical support for retardation after the 1916 court decision or change in rate before and after the formation of RCA or other legal civil events binding on private markets. Our dataset also shows no triode patenting after De Forest’s pioneering triode patents of 1906-1907 until after 1913: this supports historical accounts that assert that vacuum tube & triode development was not recognized to have important commercial potential until after 1912 when De Forest showed a commercially significant triode-amplification effect.

BIO: John’s research concerns the theory and empirical evidence pertaining to the role of patents in development. John has been working with Ron D Katznelson on the role of patents in four classic US historical cases where pioneer patents are alleged to have retarded development; in the aircraft, incandescent lamp, automobile and radio industries. At the Faculty of Laws, John will be working with colleagues in IBIL to develop a project to compare individual and small entity patent filing rates at the US and the European Patent Offices. 

RSSE: John Howells (UCL)