Most people have heard about the 18th-century inventor James Watt and his steam engine; not so many know about the way he used patents to stifle competition and throttle further development of the technology:
Watt’s patent was very broad in scope (covering all engines making use of the separate condenser and all engines using steam as a "working substance"). In other words, the patent had a very large blocking power. The enforcement of almost absolute control on the evolution of steam technology, using the wide scope of the patent, became a crucial component of Boulton and Watt’s business strategy.
On The H Open.