Patent Law Essentials: A Concise Guide

By Alan L. Durham | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER 1
Overview

1.1 ORIGINS

The historical antecedents of the United States patent system are often traced to seventeenth-century England. Until then, a patent might refer to nothing more than a legally sanctioned monopoly, granted to reward a loyal subject or sold to raise funds for the exchequer. A merchant guild, for example, might purchase a patent for the exclusive right to sell playing cards. Freedom from competition allowed the patent owner to sell in larger volumes and at a higher price. Although this system was undoubtedly popular with the government and with the patent owners, these “odious monopolies” were a source of resentment to consumers and potential competitors. In 1624 the crown relented and the Statute of Monopolies, abolishing the general power of the monarch to grant exclusive rights, became law. Importantly, however, the statute ending the general practice of monopolies specifically exempted patents that allowed inventors the exclusive right to their inventions.

The tradition of granting patents to inventors continued in colonial America and, in spite of some skepticism by influential thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson, it was incorporated into the laws of the United States. The framers of the Constitution provided to Congress, in Article I, Section 8, the power to “promote the Progress of Science and “the” useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” This brief language is the source of both patent law and copyright law in the United States.1 The specifics were left to Congress, whose

1 When the Constitution was drafted, the term science was used in a broader sense than it is to-
day, and was generally synonymous with knowledge. Arts also held a different meaning, and
the term useful arts probably referred to what we would now call technology. Although some-
what counterintuitive, the prevailing view of legal historians is that patent law exists to ad-
vance the “arts,” whereas copyright law exists to advance “science.”

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Patent Law Essentials: A Concise Guide
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 256

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?