Major Challenges for the Future
Chapter 1: Patent System Overview
1. Patent system overview If we did not have a patent system, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge of its economic consequences, to recommend instituting one. But since we have had a patent system for a long time, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge, to recommend abolishing it. (Fritz Machlup (1958), An Economic Review of the Patent System, Subcommittee on Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights, of the Committee on the Judiciary, 85th Cong. 2d. Sess., p. 80) I A EVOLUTION OF AN EARLY PATENT SYSTEM National Law The historical development of the patent system is a long one. The first patent statute was enacted by the Venetian State in 1474 (Mandich 1948, p. 172). It is, however, evident that an exclusive monopoly had been granted to traders or inventors as early as 500 bc (Greenstreet 1972). In England, the Crown issued monopoly rights in the form of ‘letters patent’ for the first time in 1331 to foreigners who wished to practise their craft in the country. That was the grant of monopoly privileges by King Edward III to Johannes Kempe of Flanders for the introduction of the textile industry to England (Hulme 1896; Dutton 1984). Letters patent conferred exclusive rights on such persons to sell a product or to use a process for a certain period of time. Subsequently, exclusivity under the letters patent continued to play an important part in commercial development by providing benefits to persons who introduced any...
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