Patent law has a rich and extensive history that began as early as 500 BCE, where chefs in Sybaris had the opportunity to enjoy a year of monopolized profit for a unique dish that they had created. Several hundreds of years afterwards, Vitruvius, who served as a judge in Alexandria, tried and exposed several poets who were guilty of stealing the material of others in their field.
From then on, Roman jurists looked into differentiating between different types of ownership, helping refine the patent laws that would exist in the years to follow.
The first recorded document that granted rights to an individual was granted to Filippo Brunelleschi in Florence in the year 1421. It recognized intellectual property rights, and over fifty years later in the year 1474, the first lasting statute that recognized such rights was established.
In the years that followed, England would grant several monopolizing statutes that recognized the patent rights of creators. These statutes culminated in the year 1710, where fourteen-year copyright rights were granted to authors.
When the United States rose, it understood the importance of patent law as much as England had. Several sweeping intellectual property laws were developed from the years 1790 to 1893, creating offices and examiners for such patents, resulting in conventions all over the world being made to protect the rights of the creator.
Current official United States patent law was developed in the year 1950 and remains in place today. These laws have protected the intellectual work of creators for over sixty years and will remain to do so in the future.
To learn more about the history of patent law, checkout this infographic created by the University of Southern California’s Online LL.M. program.