Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2008 (Revised May 2011)

The Travails of Rubber: Goodyear or Badyear?

by Tom Nicholas and Andrew Ferguson

Abstract

Explores the reason why Charles Goodyear, inventor of rubber vulcanization, was unable to profit from his discovery despite securing international property rights over his invention through a patent in 1844. Considers the utility of patents as an incentive for innovators in light of international industrial espionage associated with Goodyear's idea and international differences in patent laws. Also examines commercialization strategies based on Goodyear's choice between developing the innovation himself and licensing to third parties.

Keywords: Crime and Corruption; Entrepreneurship; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Innovation and Invention; Patents; Motivation and Incentives; Commercialization;

Citation:

Nicholas, Tom, and Andrew Ferguson. "The Travails of Rubber: Goodyear or Badyear?" Harvard Business School Case 808-118, February 2008. (Revised May 2011.)