Edited by Toshiko Takenaka
Chapter 18: The patent laws of old
The creation of a patent system was not a conception of modern cultures that were developing an industrial structure. Instead, it was a natural creation of societies interested in something new. Here the oldest documents are reproduced. The laws are herein collected, but not the privileges. Privileges were granted in ancient times for new inventions, on an individual basis. They were numerous, especially in the Middle Age. A law, instead, assures a protection to everybody who satisfies certain conditions (in this case, one that has made an invention). The first patent law was enacted in Sybaris, a city in the South of Italy, before the Roman domination; this area was called Magna Graecia. The law was mentioned by Atheneus, an ancient writer of various expressions on the culture of this area of the world. It is not clear when the law was enacted: surely before (and probably, shortly before) 506 B.C., when Sybaris was defeated and destroyed by the rival city Croton.
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