Chapter 1: The Early History of Anglo-American Patent Systems
5 Embroiled in the Puritan cause, Coke played a signiﬁcant role in the drafting of the ‘Great Protestation’, a document which was used to challenge openly the King’s independence of Parliament by proclaiming: ‘the liberties, franchises, privileges and jurisdictions of Parliament are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England’. This was too much for James I, who reacted by tearing the page recording it from the Journal of the Commons, dissolving Parliament and having Coke imprisoned in the Tower of London. Fortunately for Coke, his nine-month taste of the King’s displeasure was an experience that he survived, and its eﬀects were mitigated by Parliament’s impeachment of Sir Francis Bacon (his nemesis, who had been appointed over him in 1618 as Lord Chancellor) on charges of corruption.16 By the time Coke’s ‘Bill for Free Trade’ was law it had become the Statute of Monopolies and, although the term ‘free trade’ suggests a liberal trading policy, in truth Coke was a protectionist. In fact Coke had argued in Parliament against the export of wool and the import of Spanish tobacco. At the time there were many English trading companies, such as the East India Company (which was licensed to transport bullion) and the Virginia Company (which was licensed to produce tobacco in North America), whose charters provided them with speciﬁcally assigned and exclusive territories and permitted them to control the trade in many types of goods; indeed it was unlawful for anyone to interfere...
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