Past historic 1: how patents for invention came from Venice to England

Jacobus Acontius (anon.): visit him in
London's National Portrait Gallery
Digging around in his office the other day, this Kat found a little bundle of photocopies which turned out to be a collection of articles which he researched and wrote back in the 1980s, when he was still a full-time academic. These articles had a common theme: they were all on topics of intellectual property history.

Nowadays the same Kat is quite preoccupied with the present and even more excited about the future, and he rather suspects that he won't have much time in coming years to revisit his historical interests and take them further. He has decided therefore to make these articles available to readers of this weblog. Knowing that scholarship carries on developing even if he stops watching it, he rather hopes that there are folk out there who have pursued in greater depth the topics covered in these articles and that readers can update them with their own comments, research results and hypotheses.

The first of these articles, "The English Patent as a Reward for Invention: the Importation of an Idea", was first published in 1983 in the Journal of Legal History, but the version which appears here is a reprint which was published the same year in the European Intellectual Property Review. Its thesis is that the Venetian Patent Law of 1474 -- which is so often and so irrelevantly cited in so many articles which have crossed his desk over the years -- was probably the inspiration for the petition of Jacobus Acontius to Queen Elizabeth for protection for his own invention.

Do tell us what you think!
Past historic 1: how patents for invention came from Venice to England Past historic 1: how patents for invention came from Venice to England Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, October 27, 2011 Rating: 5


  1. Thank you very much for this article. One day I'll write the definitive book in Spanish about the History of Copyright.

    Of course, thanks to Fukuyama and Lessig but that time there won't be any more history or copyright.

  2. Alas, in 1983 I was still in secondary school with no access to the Journal of Legal History, but I do remember (as a curious mathematics student) reading your article in the late 1980's when I was lucky enough to attend Cambridge University and I recall finding it interesting and fascinating.

    Thank you for making it available to a wider audience.


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