A brief history of the patent system

The concept of granting monopolies origins from the ancient times and undoubtably the granted exclusive rights do not represent a trivial desire of an author to denote a relation to the innovation.  Here is a look at some historical milestones in the long history of patents:

  1. Ancient times

There is some dispute over which inventor is considered to be the first monopoly holder. Despite the fact that as early as 500 BC in Greece the protective rights were granted to new dishes, the historians date the first patent filed back to 1474 AD, when a Patent Statute was declared in Venice. This might bethe first reliable evidence of the intellectual property law which specified the concept of intellectual property and defined the importance of protecting inventors’ rights.

  1. The British Empire

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I back in 17thcentury, the royal court of England used to grant diverse monopolies: over well-known techniques and goods, and over inventions. After the declaration of the Statute of Monopolies and the limitation of Crown’s rights, the only valid monopolies were those on actually novel inventions. Such granting approach encouraged innovation, promoted the development of technology and inevitably led to a stable economic growth of the country.

  1. International Collaborations: Paris Convention

The end of the 19th century was under the influence of the industrial revolution that led to a close collaboration between European countries in terms of economic and social relations, as well as in terms of protection of intellectual property that resulted in enaction of Paris Convention in 1883. The agreement uniforms the national patent systems of various countries in terms of provision of the same protection to the inventions in all contracting states, and adopts the priority rights – an ability to apply for protection of the rights in other signatory states within a certain period of time.

  1. International Collaborations: Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

Although Paris Convention defined basic principles such as requirements for patentability, terms of protection, independence of the patents for the same invention in different contracting states etc., national procedures still used to be significantly different. After the adoption of PCT in 1970, national systems we harmonized with regard to filing, searching and examination of the patent application. PCT made it possible to seek the protection for an invention simultaneously in numerous countries by single application.

  1. International Collaborations: European Patent Convention (EPC)

Paris Convention was internationally oriented treaty that promoted the exchange of technology and innovation, however, it had some shortcomings and still needed for significant improvements. The EPC was signed in 1973 and turned up as an important development. Through this agreement independent national industrial property systems of the contracting states were harmonized in terms of novelty and prior art.

  1. International Collaborations: TRIPs agreement

TRIPs agreement is the modern mechanism that forces its contracting states to acquiescea minimal criteria set in previously adopted treaties for the regulation of different forms of intellectual property. The current patent system still is facing new challenges due to an increased role of the knowledge-based economy. To keep the patent system up with the continuous technological development in the long-term perspective TRIPs agreement might be the one that will lead the it to a whole new level.

  1. Patent Law and Theory, A Handbook of Contemporary Research, Edward Elgar Pub (April 30, 2009) Edward Elgar Pub, 30.04.2009
  2. World Intellectual Property Organization homepage <>

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