The United States patent system is one of the most successful in the world. After filing your Patent you can expect a wait of 12 to 18 months before you hear whether it has been approved or not. While waiting for your invention to be approved or rejected for a patent, you may benefit by learning how the US patent system emerged.
Early Venetian patents did not result in the creation of a patent system but they were the first European patents that were issued in the Republic of Venice in the late 15h century. The patent system originated in England, also in the 15th century, with the 20-year monopoly granted by King Henry VI to John of Utynam for the use of a new method to make stained glass. Utynam’s was the first recorded patent in English history and it marked the beginning of the patent system that gives inventors official sanction to reap the economic benefits of their inventions.
Later English developments built the foundation of both English and US patent laws. Before the English Parliament passed the Statute of Monopolies law in 1624, English royalty often used patents to grant trade and manufacturing monopolies to individuals who donated moneys to the royal treasury, and patentees could obtain monopolies for manufactures that were not new. The Monopolies Statute declared that patents could be issued solely to new inventions and stated that monopolies contradicted laws in England. Patent time limitations are also established by law. The English Court made it mandatory to describe inventions in writing before being able to have their patents accepted in the 18th century. The basis on which modern US patent law rests on consists of the English patent laws that were active during the Colonial period.
Before long the legal system of the United States began, in turn, to influence British patent laws. Inventors can look to a clause in the first Article of the US Constitution, which pertains to Arts and Science, for protection in maintaining exclusive rights to their inventions. Before 1790, the English King was the lone possessor of everything the colonists invented.
The US Congress accepted the first US Patent Statute in 1790; and then in 1836 a patent law passed providing the first patent system worldwide. An important feature of this new system is the reviewing of all patent applications to verify that the inventions are lawful and new. The 1836 statute created the US Patent Office where technically qualified employees examine patent applications. Now applicants have the right to go against decisions of the Patent Office even being able to take the appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
At the time an elemental difference among many when it comes to the difference between the US Patent Law and patent laws of England or other European countries was that they don’t aim at exacting prices for granting patents. They also have never been an instrument for raising revenue. In the US there were patent application fees (and are also) reasonably priced. They are used only to cover the administrative expenses of the US Patent Office. To patents to a privileged few in England, by contrast, exorbitant fees limited access. Fees for patents covering England alone, without Scotland and Ireland, were equal to about four times per capita income in 1860. Inventors had to follow complicated administrative procedures before they could obtain patents,and patent fees were a source of revenues for the Crown and the Court.
English concerns about facing growing US competition finally introduced changes into the English patent laws. In 1851, England realized the US was a threat in regards to industrial supremacy. This realization signaled the start of a revision process that began in 1852 when Parliament approved the Patent Law Amendment Act the first real adjustment of the patent system in two centuries and lasted well into the twentieth century. Obviously influenced by the US Patent Law, the English Patent Law of 1852 lowered patent application fees and created the Office of the Commissioners of Patents for Inventions.
US Patent Law was first created to encourage inventiveness. Unlike many European countries, the United States does not require patentees to permit the use of their inventions. Most of the valuable patents in the United States are owned by your larger corporations who in return exploit them for all they are worth. There have been several independent inventors in America, starting with Samuel Hopkis, who received the very first US patent in early 1790.
The dilemma between the merits of protecting independent inventors versus the drawbacks of monopoly is as relevant today as it was when the English Parliament passed the Statute of Monopolies law in 1624 almost four hundred years ago.
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