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Patent policy in early modern England: Jobs, trade and regulation

Dent, C.ORCID: 0000-0002-1801-713X (2006) Patent policy in early modern England: Jobs, trade and regulation. Legal History, 10 (1-2). pp. 71-95.


Patents in the present day are seen as a policy device that trades the granting of monopoly rights in return for the benefit society gains from the intelligence and ingenuity of the inventor. This article reinforces the understanding that patents granted in Elizabethan and Jacobean times fulfilled policy objectives. The objectives of the time included the maximisation of employment, the increase in the level of foreign trade and the improved regulation of particular industries. The article examines the patents themselves and considers the words of the reported judgments of the time to show that these policy concerns were used by the courts to justify particular decisions. The purpose of the article is not to discount the more personal motives of the monarchs but to demonstrate that the executive branch, such as it was, of the governments of the day used patents to further the interests of the English nation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Macquarie University. Division of Law
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