History of patent law in America is a subject that many people, especially those in the legal profession have always been interested in. Now, to be able to understand this history better, you need to understand the patent law, and especially that of the U.S.

This history of patents is somehow vague or unclear. There are some claims that some elements of the patent law that originated in the medieval period, and that may be true to some instance. Then there are recorded occasions where some medieval rulers, during that time, granted monopolistic powers to investors.

In 1474, Venice passed what some experts termed as the first patent law, which granted all inventors exclusive rights to all their inventions. Then England passed the statute of monopolies in the year 1624. This statue of monopolies defined the following:

(a) All inventions had to be new in order to be granted monopolistic powers.

(b) These powers would only apply to an invention for 14 years, after which the inventor would lose their patent rights.

It is upon these two basis that the United States pegged their patent law as well. The emphasis was to aid inventors get access to new inventions at the time. In the year 1791, a new French patent law was passed and this emphasized that all inventions related to the inventor were their property. But even today, US patent law embraces both school of thoughts as you can see from this https://ipsnews.net/business/2022/01/20/how-to-patent-a-product-inventhelp-patent-service/ article.

Remarkably, even before the US constitution was written, there were records that showed some individuals had earlier been granted some rights to their inventions. During the colonial period, intellectual property in America was owned by the great Britain. And is was also possible for all citizens to seek protection from the government and relevant authorities depending on the state in question. Then, the foundation of the US patent law was firmly established with the writing of the US constitution. In article 1, section 8, the constitution states the following:

That the US congress shall have the rights to promote science and useful arts, by securing a limited time to authors and inventors, the exclusive rights to their respective writings, discoveries and creativity.

Then in 1970, this contributed to the first US drafting on patent laws. This patent act empowered the following people to grant patents:

1. The secretary of state and the secretary of war.

2. The Attorney General

This act granted patents for 14 years. Before this period could elapse, a patent remained active. And if an individual wanted to attain patent rights, they had to submit a description of their invention to ascertain that they were the inventors or that they were the minds behind the idea.

The History Of Patent Law In America - Digytalia

Since the inception of the US patent law in 1790, the act has consistently been revised. One statutory bar of the patent act stated that an invention which had been used openly could not qualify to get a patent right. Then shortly, this was modified to allow for a grace period.

In the year 1793, the first patent act was revised by Secretary of state Thomas Jefferson, to include a complete definition of a patent. It included this: ”Any new and useful art, machinery, or any new or useful improvement of any art, machinery, manufacture or composition of matter”. Now, in the first 3 years, 55 patents were granted to applicants. In July 1836, a total of 10,000 patents had been granted.

In July 4, 1836, the patent office became the state’s property. Because of all the changes, all applications had to be submitted to the patent office. This office was supposed to decide on the novelty and grant patents where it was necessary. But at the same time, the law changed to add 7 more years to the initial 14 year limit period of patents. That also meant that when inventors were applying for patent rights, they were to include a detailed application when submitting their patent application to the patent office.

In the same year (1836), the patent office renumbered all the patents submitted with a suffix ”X”. Before this, patents used to be listed with names and dates, not numbers. After this numbering, the very first U.S patent was named 1X. Now, in December 15 the same year, a fire incident demolished the patent office. Luckily, 2,845 patents were salvaged out of the fire. This resulted in a law that required all applicants of patents to apply in doubles. Then when the patent office begun printing in 1870, this law was dropped because there was no need of submitting documents in doubles.

In the year 1849, this same patent office had to be transferred from the state department to the department of the interior. During this time, the definition of U.S patent was expanded to show that the inventor seeking patent rights should have invented something new, useful and not obvious to people who were in the same profession as the inventor.

Then in 1870, people begun viewing patents in a different perspective. Marked by economic depression, people started viewing patents as a way of promoting monopolies. But this negative perception lead to the inception of the Sherman Antitrust act. It is during this time that many begun to oppose patents, and this can be seen from the way courts invalidated patents at the time.

But as soon as the depression ended, the negative perception about patents also ended. Then the patent act faced opposition once more in the great depression. It returned again when world war II occurred. Obviously it affected the economy, which explains why people could oppose the idea of patent only when the country was experiencing economic depression as explained on https://ventsmagazine.com/2022/01/20/the-importance-and-benefits-of-inventhelp-patent-services/.

Finally, in 1952, the basic structure of today’s patent law was laid out. The applicant had to explain their invention. In addition to that, such an invention also had to be new, useful and not obvious in order to be granted a patent right.

Then in the early 80s and 90s, the atmosphere changed once again. Patent was not only seen to be beneficial to business, but also a way to protect an inventor’s ideas. It became very important as it signified the role of technology, invention as well as discovery in America.

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