Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
The invisible businessman: Nuclear physics, patenting practices, and trading activities in the 1930s


In the 1930s the production of patents for the protection of intellectual rights became central to the research activities of Enrico Fermi and his group, consistently with a research policy emerging within the Italian Fascist Regime. Behind their work was an international network consisting of businessmen, industrialists, and multinationals who helped them patent their method for the production of artificial radioactive elements and to promote its industrial exploitation. The lack of research funding combined with a more aggressive foreign policy of the regime made it impossible for the group to continue these activities in Rome, and in 1938 the promulgation of racial laws forced them to migrate abroad.


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