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Working KnowledgeEmployee Innovation and the Rise of Corporate Intellectual Property, 1800-1930$
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Catherine L. Fisk

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780807833025

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807899069_fisk

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Stealing in the Dark the Improvements of Others

Stealing in the Dark the Improvements of Others

(p.23) 1 Stealing in the Dark the Improvements of Others
Working Knowledge

Catherine L. Fisk

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter begins with an explanation of the nature and reasons for the early American legal commitment to mobility of labor and to the courts' refusal to regard workplace knowledge, whether unpatented secrets such as Du Pont's or patented inventions by employees, as the virtually inalienable attribute of the individual employee. Against the context of the antebellum legal commitment to free mobility of skilled labor and individual entrepreneurship protected by patent law, it then examines how Du Pont's business strategy and choices for managing its skilled workers reflected and adapted to the American insistence that workplace knowledge was the attribute of skilled workers, not an asset of the firm that employed them.

Keywords:   American legal commitment, mobility of labor, workplace knowledge, unpatented secrets, Du Pont

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