Chapter One – Origins and Policies

Chapter one deals with the history and policies of patent law in both the United States and abroad.  Many of the issues discussed in this chapter are still current today.  For example, the thoughts of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison on patents have been cited in Supreme Court opinions as recently as 2003.  Similarly, parts of the original 1623 English Statute of Monopolies remain in effect in the United Kingdom.

The study by Fritz Machlup contains a thorough discussion of the economics of patents up to the 1950s (when the current 1952 Patent Act entered force) as well as a capsule summary of the history of patent law.  The study is recommended reading for an understanding of the economic policy objectives that underlay the 1952 Act.

The Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Industrial Innovation, particularly the reports of the Patent Policy and Information Policy Subcommittees, was a driving force behind many modern patent reforms, including the creation of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  These reforms had broad bipartisan support: the Report itself was commissioned by the Carter administration, and many of its proposals were adopted by the Reagan administration working with Congressional Democrats and Republicans.  Each subcommittee report includes a comment by the Public Interest Subcommittee, which balanced the interests of corporations and other established parties against the public interest.

Updates

  1. The Chief Judge of the Seventh Circuit has questioned the Federal Circuit’s exclusive jurisdiction over patent appeals. Hon. Diane P. Wood, Is it Time to Abolish the Federal Circuit’s Exclusive Jurisdiction in Patent Cases?,13 Chicago Kent J. Intell. Prop. 1 (2013).  The Chairman of the Federal Circuit’s Advisory Council responded.  Edward Reines,In Defense of the Federal Circuit:  A Response to Judge Wood, The AmLaw Litigation Daily (October 7, 2013).

 

 Additional Source Material