A Brief History of the Evolution of the Patent of Invention in England
Author(s): Peter Wells and Tilaye Terrefe
The modern patent of invention evolved over the course of about 500 years from a form of letter of protection into something we would recognize today. An understanding of that process of evolution and the circumstances that drove the process of change is the foundation of a more thorough understanding of the present system. Even the meaning of words such as “invention” have changed so significantly that reading an older case with the modern meaning in mind will lead to confusion. It is also important to understand that patent policy 500 years ago was concerned with more than stimulating industry, and a failure to understand that there were competing policy objectives in play will also confuse the unwary reader.