Patents were granted in Venetian Republic, in England as far back as the 15th century. France passed patent law in 1791. The year before (1790), the US Patent System had been established. In England, during the Industrial Revolution, it was common practise for inventions to be patented. James Hargreaves, in 1770, had the Spinning Jenny patented, George Stephenson his locomotive in 1815. While many patents were granted, the procedure to get a patent in the UK was complicated - seven offices were involved - and costly. In 1852, a single institution responsible, the Patent Office, was established, the procedure simplified, the process shortened and standardized.

In Prussia, the law code of 1793 granted the king the exclusive right to protect inventions. An 1815 publication announced the 'encouragement and support of invention' which resulted in the establishment of a Technical Deputation in Berlin. Only a Business Ordinnance of 1845 established regulations regarding the treatment of patent applications. In the 1820es, the Technical Deputation, somwtimes referred to as the Berlin Patent Office, granted 20 to 30 patents annually, in the 1840es 50 to 70 patents annually. Many applications were rejected (in 1850 c. 90 %), as the Deputation only wanted to protect the most important inventions.
In the 1860es, critics of the practise of awarding patents, founding their reasoning on the writings of Adam Smith, campaigned for the abolition of the practise to grant and protect patents; the Leipzig Chamber of Commerce in 1869 proposed the abolition of patent legislation.
In Bavaria, since 1825 the King (government) had the exclusive right to grant protection of inventions to inventors; in Hessen-Kassel the Grand Duke (government) since 1820, in Württemberg the King (government) since 1817, in Baden since 1842, in Hannover since 1847. The responsible authorities agreed on keeping the numbers of patents low. In Saxony, patents had been granted since the 15th century; a law of 1853 regulated the procedure of checking and granting patents. On the other hand, the Hanseatic cities of Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck, Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz did not grant any patents at all, until the Northern German Confederation was established. (paragraph on German patent history based on Wolfgang Pfaller's website)

In the early 19th century in a number of cases inventors applied for patents not only in their home country, but in others as well; industrial enterprises increasingly looked at markets abroad. Louis-Jacques Daguerre had applied for patents for his invention, the Daguerrotypie, in France and in England (1839), then he sold his French patent to the French government. In 1855, Henry Bessemer had the Bessemer Furnace patented in the UK. In 1856 the Prussian Technical Deputation refused to grant his application for a patent in Prussia.

National Patent Offices founded in Germany in 1877, in Switzerland in 1888.

Patentgeschichte, by Wolfgang Pfaller, in German
Links zum Thema Patente und Marken, von KMU
Geschichte, von Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt (since 1877)
History of the Patent Office, UK
History of Industrial Property Rights, from Japan Patent Office
A Brief History of the Sewing Machine, by Graham Forsdyke
Brief History of Patents, from IP Creators
Article Daguerrotypie, from Wikipedia
Biography of Henry Bessemer, from Lucid Cafe
Pre 1825 Locomotives, from Locos in Profile
Die ersten Patentgesetze (the first patent laws), list of countries & dates, posted by Wolfgang Pfaller, in German
DOCUMENTS Publikandum über die Ertheilung von Patenten, Prussia 1815, posted by Wolfganf Pfaller, in German
Stölzels Ventile, by Robert Ostermayer, in German, has application for a patent to the King of Prussia, of 1815, in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 28th 2003, last revised on January 11th 2005

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