Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 31, 2009

Watt, Again? Boldrin and Levine Still Exaggerate the Adverse Effect of Patents on the Progress of Steam Power

  • George Selgin and John L. Turner
From the journal Review of Law & Economics


In an earlier comment on Boldrin and Levine’s 2003 lecture on patents and their effect on technology, we observed that their account of James Watt’s influence on the progress of steam technology contained factual errors which tended to exaggerate the negative consequences of Watt’s patent. We concluded that it was far from obvious that a corrected account would support Boldrin and Levine’s bold conjectures. While Boldrin and Levine’s 2008 “Against Intellectual Monopoly” begins with a new version of Watt’s story that claims to take our earlier criticisms into account, here we assess that version and conclude that it shares many of the shortcomings of the original.

Published Online: 2009-12-31

©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 4.12.2023 from
Scroll to top button