The newsLINK Group - Changing at the Speed of Invention

Editorial Library Category: Legal | Intellectual Property Topics: Patent Laws Title: Changing at the Speed of Invention Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Patent law, just like most things in the world, has undergone considerable changes. Patent systems date back to medieval times, when a sovereign could grant exclusive rights, or monopolies, in exchange for money. Editorial: Changing at the Speed of Invention 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 A (Very) Brief Overview of Patent Laws Patent law, just like most things in the world, has undergone considerable changes. Patent systems date back to medieval times, when a sovereign could grant exclusive rights, or monopolies, in exchange for money. It was an alternative to taxation and was useful in situations like the one Venice experienced in 1474. The Venetians and Turks were at war with each other, and as a result Venice lost its vast, Eastern Mediterranean trading empire. It needed to change strategies and concentrate on making goods instead of just trading them, so its leaders created a series of incentives to keep artisans and materials from leaving and encourage artisans from other countries to move there. In England, as the idea of protecting innovation evolved, the idea was to benefit society as a whole when it came to inventions, and to restrict the right of a sovereign to grant monopolies in an arbitrary, long-term way. This contrasted with the French approach, which was more concerned about benefit to the inventor than with benefits to a country. The U.S. patent system has undergone many changes since 1776. Unsurprisingly, since Benjamin Franklin was involved, and since patent law was drafted during the industrial revolution, patent law favored the inventor. The last two decades of the 1800s changed that: economic depression, and concern about the power being enjoyed by “big business,” led to a lack of support for patents in the court system. During the 1900s, a dynamic interrelationship was established between patent law and antitrust laws. During the 1930s, people attacked the patent system because they thought it contributed to the financial woes of the day. Patents were also given scant support during World War II and the 1970s. Matters changed in the 1980s, when antitrust enforcement lost support and the courts became more inclined to presume that a patent is valid, and that invalidating a patent requires “clear and convincing” evidence. The most interesting aspect of patent law, perhaps, consists of balancing the rights of an inventor against the need of a society to make use of those inventions without being too restricted. Not all aspects of patent law are settled, and exciting new areas are yet to be equitably and wisely determined. Patent law is about innovative ideas. Patent lawyers recognize, protect, and reward the creative genius behind those ideas, because they know a good patent can help an inventor get deserved credit for that work. And as the following list of inventions proves, the world really does change at the speed of invention. Some of the inventions described below were made before the existence of patent law. In others, such as the telephone and the light bulb, patent law played a significant role. What they all have in common is the fact that revolutionary ideas have all shaped our world and our lives. The Top Ten (Plus One) Farming Implements The two earliest farming implements are the hoe and the plough, dated back to 2500 BC in the Indus Valley. As the name suggests, the Indus Valley is located in the Indian subcontinent. The hoe can be used to weed or irrigate plants, but it can also be used to prepare mortar, which is significant because mortar allows you to build. Once you have one building, you have the potential to build a city. The plough, on the other hand, is primarily a farming tool. When agriculture flourishes, it is possible to grow enough food to feed the inhabitants of a city through every season of the year. Mathematical Concepts Aryabhata was an astronomer and mathematics genius who has been credited with first writing down such important concepts as zero (although he didn’t have a symbol for it), fractions and decimals, pi, sums of power series, sines, and quadratic equations. His work included branches of mathematics such as arithmetic, spherical geometry, plane trigonometry, and algebra. Born in India approximately 476, he wrote a brief text called the Aryabhatiya when he was