Abstract: Trademarks and British Dominance in Consumer Goods, 1876-1914

Teresa da Silva Lopes and Paulo Guimaraes


Late Victorian Britain was very important in the development of British dominance in light consumer goods industries, such as alcoholic drinks, detergents, bicycles, steel pens, and ball games. Firms developed technology-based innovations and marketing-based innovations, creating abnormal peaks of trademark registrations in certain industries. This paper investigates those peaks and shows that factors usually pointed out as explaining British economic decline in heavy industries, did not have an impact on the development of competitive industries in light consumer goods, and on the contrary encouraged their fast growth during this period. Trademark registrations are shown to provide new insights into the debate on British relative decline, when combined with other industry and firm-level data.