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By Fritz Machlup

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Rept. No-72, 85th, 1st, 1957). Report, Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights (S. Rept. No. 1430, 85th, 2d, 1958). AN ECONOMIC REVIEW OF THE PATENT SYSTEM By Fritz Machlup I. ” Letters patent are official documents by which certain rights, privileges, ranks, or titles are conferred. Among the better known of such “open letters” are patents of appointment (of officers, military, judicial, colonial), patents of nobility, patents of precedence, patents of land conveyance, patents of monopoly, patents of invention.

The Inventor has a “priority” to apply in other countries within 12 months.

44 The duration of patents has been determined by historical precedent and political compromise. The 14-year term of the English patents after 1624 was based on the idea that 2 sets of apprentices should, in 7 years each, be trained in the new techniques, though a prolongation by another 7 years was to be allowed in exceptional cases. There were all sorts of arguments in later years in favor of a longer period of protection: it should be long enough to protect the inventor for the rest of his life; to protect him for the average length of time for which a user of an invention might succeed in keeping it secret; or for the average time it would take for others to come up with the same invention; or for the average period in which investments of this kind can be amortized; and some pleas were made for eternal protection through perpetual patents.

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