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The Economics of the European Patent SystemIP Policy for Innovation and Competition$
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Dominique Guellec and Bruno van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199216987

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216987.001.0001

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Historical Insights

Historical Insights

(p.15) 2 Historical Insights
The Economics of the European Patent System

Dominique Guellec

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the genesis and evolution of the patent system, since the first patent statute was issued in Venice in 1471, until the international harmonization pressures of patent regimes at the end of 20th century. The European Patent Office (EPO), which began its activity in 1978, has established a common examination procedure and common standards for patenting all over Europe. The main characteristics of modern patent systems are discussed, which include the subject matter (technical inventions in Europe), priority rule (first to file), inventive step, a statutory duration of twenty years after filing, prior examination of applications before grant, inventive step as minimum degree of novelty, disclosure of the protected invention, and the possibility of various restrictions on patent rights, such as compulsory licensing or working requirements.

Keywords:   history of patents, Venice statute, European Patent Office, WIPO, TRIPS, international harmonization, modern patent systems

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