Robert P. Merges, University of California, Berkeley, has published American Patent Law: A Business and Economic History (Cambridge University Press):
Students and established scholars of intellectual property law often look for historical context when trying to understand the development and present-day contours of IP rules and systems. American Patent Law supplies this context, offering readers a comprehensive account of the evolution of the US patent system and patent doctrine beginning in 1790. From the technologies for harvesting wood and shoemaking in the earliest periods to computer software and biotechnology of the present, each chapter of the book covers the characteristic technologies of each historical era. The book also describes how businesspeople in each era acquired and enforced patents and used patents as the foundation of various business arrangements. This book is a landmark in the history of technologies, the US patent system, and the way private actors have deployed patents across American history.
Here is an endorsement:
"The product of Merges's decades of research on the patent system, this masterful study transcends the simple debate over patents as a stimulus to technological discovery and documents their role in helping ensure that inventions are put to productive use. Whatever your view of patents, you will find much that is new and intriguing in Merges's analysis of how patents have been used to obtain financing and organize enterprises to exploit promising new technologies."
Naomi R. Lamoreaux - Stanley B. Resor Professor of Economics and History, Yale University