The History of Patents

If you are an engineer or do some researches, you will understand the satisfaction and joy when you create or discover something. In many cases a new technology or device will associated with the name of its creator or discoverer. However, there are cases when other people try to dilute the honor by claiming the fame to their own names.  To avoid such adverse situations, the concept of the patent was formulated.

The History of Patents

patent usaThe word patent is derived from the Latin phrase ‘litterae patentes’ which means an open letter. Such kind of letters were used by monarchs in the medieval period to document all kinds of rights and privileges associated with discoveries. The letters used to come with the royal seal which ensures proof of these rights.

Different countries came up with similar ideas and the first informal system of patenting was first put into use during the Renaissance period in Italy. The system gradually spread to the rest of Europe with the help of Venetian glass-blowers who wanted to protect their art and skill and maintain their distinctiveness from that of the local workers.

According to the records, the first patent was granted to John of Utynam in 1449 for a glass-making process. The period of these patents was for 20 years. In return, John had to teach the native Englishmen about that particular skill. Although the procedures have advanced over the year, the same method of information passing is still followed in the form of publication of the specifications mentioned in the patent.

Since then the entire system of patenting occurred in North America. According to patent regulations from 1788 the exclusive rights were given to the discoverers or inventors of science and arts of useful purposes.

The concept of supra-national patent-issuing agencies was formed in the 80s. There are two governing agencies in this field- the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) and the European Patent Office. These authorities govern the patenting laws and applications for a number of countries. Following the GATT agreement in 1995, the US patent law was restructured to strike harmony with the patent systems in other countries.

Purpose of Patents

Looking into the history, you will find that the patent system was introduced to encourage newer inventions and developments and to disclose them to the need of the public. Since there were cases where innovation plagiarism turned its ugly face to the society, many discoverers were hesitant to reveal their work. As a result, it created a need in a system which not only protects the rights of these discoverers but also encourages them to discover more and more and get associated with their discoveries for a long period of time.

Validity Period of a Patent

Although different countries started off with their own rules and conditions regarding the terms of a patent, agreement was reached at the international level by the TRIPs agreement in the 1990s. According to its term, a fixed period of 20 years was considered to be the term of a patent. The person whose patents have been approved is supposed to be paid for every usage of his or her discovered product. This particular law is followed by all European countries and the U.S. However, the countries have the rights to issue their unique national laws regarding patent-like rights for shorter periods up to 10 years.

These are some of the general information regarding the history of the patent laws, who all can apply, and the tenure of each right. You can certainly get an idea about the patent business and how you can use it to make some money. So if you have invented something new, try to put that for the general good and also make some earnings in the process.