Patents are evolving from often very immature technology and purely ideas, the invention, into intellectual property assets that play a part in business strategy and have value as transactional goods, the innovation. Businesses operating in the intellectual property marketplace have experienced an explosion of activity involving these intangible but still valuable assets.
”WE HAVE among us men of great genius, apt to invent and discover ingenious devices; and in view of the grandeur and virtue of our City, more such men come to us from divers parts. Now if provision were made for the works and devices discovered by such persons, so that others who may see them could not build them and take the inventor’s honor away, more men would then apply their genius, would discover, and would build devices of great utility and benefit to our Commonwealth.”
“The Venetian Patent Statute of 1474”
All modern patent statutes are derived from the Venetian Patent Act. In the act it was decreed that new and inventive devices, once they had been put into practice, had to be communicated to the Republic in order to obtain legal protection against potential infringers. This statute laid down the general principals of patent law. Namely, that the invention had to be new and useful (to the State), that the rights conferred to the inventor were to be exclusive, that the Patent was for a limited time and importantly, that infringers could be brought to account and their infringing devices seized and destroyed. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries patent laws were passed in numerous countries, including the United States in 1790, France in 1791, Spain in 1811, and the Netherlands in 1817. The importance the industrial revolution placed on technical change was a major factor in the adoption of these laws.
On April 10, 1790, President George Washington signed the bill which laid the foundations of the modern American patent system. The U.S. patent system was unique; for the first time in history the intrinsic right of an inventor to profit from his invention is recognized by law.
The first relevant international convention to the European Patent System was the Paris Convention in 1883. Although the major focus of this convention was not patent law, it marked the first time that there was international cooperation in patent law. The Council of Europe, established in 1949, provided a forum for discussion that would lead to European patent law’s further internationalization. Officially titled “The Convention on the Grant of European Patents,” the EPC was established in 1973.
In 2012 Member States and the European Parliament agreed on the “patent package” – laying grounds for the creation of unitary patent protection in the EU. The patent package implements enhanced cooperation between 25 Member States.
On September 13, 2011 President Barack Obama signed the new bill stating a bigger change in the US patent system since G. Washington signed the first bill. "Somewhere in that stack of applications could be the next technological breakthrough, the next miracle drug" Obama said. "We should be making it easier and faster to turn new ideas into jobs."
So historically, to protect the public good, governments have created collective rights for organizations, mandating compulsory licensing of patents at established fees, creating and managing public patents, directly purchasing key enabling technology patents and placing them into the public domain, and even creating mergers between firms.
Recently, IPIN, the Intellectual Property Institute of Norway, held their first traning for Norwegian industry leaders. Hopefully this was the start of something that has been a missing part in he Norwegian innovation ecosystem. IPIN will be the leading IP research center in Scandinavia. Their core research areas are intellectual asset management and business development. IPIN will strengthen this thinking and be a game changer in intellectual asset. The institute will build on what has been developed globally over years on set Norway on the map together with the recent developments in the US and Europe. The institute is a cooperation between Patentstyret, the University of Gothenburgh and NTNU. We are excited to see what will follow.
Knut J. Egelie