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Re: The patent process

From: Alun
Subject: Re: The patent process
Date: 15 May 2004 04:45:14 GMT
User-agent: Xnews/4.11.09

"Chuck Szmanda" <> wrote in

> You are not correct.  The Venetian Patent Act was enacted by the
> Venetian Senate in 1474.  Here is a part of that ordinance:
> We have among us men of great genius, apt to invent and discover
> ingenious devices... Now, if provisions were made for the works and
> devices discovered by such persons, so that others who may see them
> could not build them and take the inventor's honor [sic] away, more men
> would then apply their genius, would discover, and would build devices
> of great utility to our commonwealth.
> Gilfillan, S.C. (1964), Invention and the Patent System , Materials
> Relating to Continuing Studies of Technology, Economic Growth, and the
> Variability of Private Investment, Joint Economic Committee, Congress
> of the United States, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office),
> p. 11. 
> "Chris Kwan" <> wrote in message
>> Barry Margolin <> wrote in message
>> news:<>... 
>> > In article <>,
>> >  Christopher Browne <> wrote:
>> >
>> > > We might be better off, overall, if money was being spent on the
>> > > "mature" drugs, that cost less, and that are better understood, as
>> > > opposed to money getting thrust at the expensive new ones. 
>> >
>> > But if the patent process didn't exist, we might not have many of
>> > the drugs in the first place, so they'll never get to the point of
>> > being mature. 
>> >
>> > Patents are a two-edged sword.
>> I disagree here. Patent is virtually a western invention with less
>> than 300 yrs of history if I am correct. The easterners created many
>> inventions and shared many ideas openly by making available the text,
>> including pasta and making of paper and silk. Of course one would
>> argue that only limited people may have accessed to these text so in a
>> way is a barrier. But the fact still remains many inventions
>> particularly in medicine were tested and challeged by a series of
>> trial and error in the past. Many modern medicine particularly those
>> that look for active elements were sourced from ancient manuscripts
>> for example, resistance to malaria ? 
>> There was this story about how some chinese doctors found some
>> medicinal herbs that can cure this during Moa days but because of
>> politics then they could not publish in the west. These doctors were
>> reading an old manuscript about a plant that grow in rivers and used
>> this to provide the active ingredient. US Army wanted this but again
>> because of politics could not obtain the drug but later found out that
>> in fact the same plant is also found in US etc. There was also the
>> story of first medical examiner book (for autopsy)from China more than
>> 2000 years written by a famous examiner in his days. The knowledge
>> there provided the basis for many details of poison and how these can
>> be detected etc. Do they have patents then ? Nope, but they did have
>> an apprentice system and knowledge were handed down this way much like
>> Kung Fu. Did this help to promote new art ? Yeap. Did this increase
>> the cost of medicine by R & D ? Nope and doctors then were poor as you
>> know as the chinese medicine looks at prevention rather than cure. BTW
>> until today no western technology can unravel the art of acupunture
>> and how it works though and obviously no patents either. There were
>> many theories and if they can't be explained then its fail the western
>> standard I guess.
>> CK

Less than 300 years would refer to the US, I suppose, but seeing as the 
country itself is less than 300 years old that's hardly surprising. Of 
course, the real origin of US patent law is the English patent law, 
beginning with the Statute of Monopolies, signed into law by King James I 
in 1623. 

Even then, there were patents issued in England before there was a patent 
law, at the prerogative of the king. The patent that was retrospectively 
numbered as number 1 was issued in 1617, but in fact some patents for 
inventions were issued in England in the 1500s. 

The term 'patent' originally referred to any grant of a monopoly from the 
king. The Statute of Monopolies was actually a reform limiting patents to 
only patents of invention. Before that, a patent could be granted to limit 
sale of a particular staple commodity to one vendor in a particular 
locality, which was a form of patronage. There was controversy over patents 
to sell salt, I think, leading to reform of the law.

The original wording of the law listed certain types of invention as 
patentable, including compositions of gunpowder, and then added any 'method 
of manufacture', wording that persisted in England for centuries. 

Prior to 1853, it was necessary to go through several government 
departments to get a UK patent, and only then was the UK Patent Office 
created, so technically the US Patent Office is older.

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