International Patent Law

International Patent Law

Cooperation, Harmonization and an Institutional Analysis of WIPO and the WTO

Alexander Stack

Alexander Stack analyzes international patent law institutions and harmonization from a global welfarist, rationalist perspective. Grounding his analysis in innovation theory and an examination of patent law and prosecution, the author employs tools from new institutional economics to explore when cooperation is welfare-enhancing and the design implications for international institutions.

Chapter 4: History

Alexander Stack

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law, international economic law, trade law


Chapter 4 has two purposes. First, it seeks to show that the theoretical model built in Chapters 1–3 may be reconciled with the historical record. Second, the chapter provides background for Chapters 5 and 6, which discuss the main international institutions that affect international patent law. 1 PRIOR TO THE PARIS CONVENTION Patent law has a long history in European civilization. However, this discussion will begin in the mid-1800s, when patent laws of various sorts were in place in most major European countries (including Germany, Russia and France), the British Empire and the United States.1 In many countries, patent laws had been introduced by colonial administrations as a simple reflection of European laws. These patent laws varied widely, depending upon domestic interests, the domestic legal context and legal tradition (common law, civil law, Germanic).2 For example, patent laws varied in subject matter, with some countries excluding patentability for natural products (Spain), luxuries or chemical products (Germany), medicine (all countries except the United States, Britain, Chile and Brazil), medical products but not methods of manufacture (Sweden), food (Germany, Austria, while Sweden allowed patents only for process-related food patents) and beverages (Austria). Patent laws varied in terms of the applicable foreign prior art, using all worldwide prior art, or only printed or published foreign art, or excluding foreign prior art altogether. They varied in the length of the patent grant, and whether the system was a registration or examination system.3 They varied in terms of whether a patentee had an...

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