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what matters and is often the hardest thing to assess. M any years may elapse before a
technology passes from invention to innovation. Exampl es: mechanical cotton picker—53 years;
zipper—27 years; fluorescent lamp—79 years (87).
Read The NIH (Not Invented Here) Syndrome (88-89).
To protect their advantages, individual firms or whole co untries may go to great lengths to
prevent the diffusion of their technologies. Today, techno logically advanced nations attempt to
prevent export of advanced technologies through export licensing requirements. Licenses may
be denied if national security could be compromised (89 ).
The possession o f a patent confers exclusive use of an
invention; it is a l egal monopoly. Without the prospect of
such a monopoly, it is believed there would be a diminished
motivation to inve nt, and society as a whole would suffer
from a slower rate of technological advance (90). However,
patent protection may retard technology development —
firms may suppre ss inventions that could seriously shake
up existing routines or even threaten a firm’s existence (90).
In 1944, the U.S . Supreme Court rule d that a pate nt
holder’s degree o f control over an industry could limit the
enforceability of i ts patent rights — a patent should not
contribute to mon opoly power because that would un rmine the usefuln ess of an in vention, one of the ke y
criteria used by t
the Patent O ffice in awarding patents
Filing a successful patent application makes the invention public. Consequently, access to the
public record may stimulate alternative approaches to s olving a te chnological problem (91). Page 2 of 2...
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- Fall '08
- Sociology, Technology and Society, foreign technologies