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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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An Ingenious Man Enabled by Contract

An Ingenious Man Enabled by Contract

(p.108) 4 An Ingenious Man Enabled by Contract
Working Knowledge

Catherine L. Fisk

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes how the law and culture of patenting embraced worker control of craft and mechanical knowledge—as did the law and culture of the workplace in the early postbellum years—as part of the antimonopoly conception of entrepreneurship. In 1860, the law presumed that the inventor should own his patents unless or until he assigned or licensed them to others. Leading thinkers on American political economy from Hamilton to Lincoln viewed technological development as crucial to American progress, and the patent system was widely believed to be integral to it. The general faith in patenting and technology included a particular veneration for inventors, and courts would not lightly divest an inventor of his possibilities for enterprise.

Keywords:   culture of patenting, worker control, mechanical knowledge, antimonopoly conception, entrepreneurship

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