Inventing Law: The Creation of Legal Philosophies in the American and European Patent Systems
AuthorIbsen, Alexander Zlatanos
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAlthough the patent systems of the United States and Europe have become continuously more similar their underlying legal philosophy continues to be different. This study examines how the two patent philosophies emerged out of different social situations and why and how patent systems can develop similar formal arrangements without experiencing a similar harmonization of underlying philosophy. As patent laws are historically unique to western culture it provides a lens through which to observe its relative social appreciation of industry, technology, commerce, and the role of the law. This study argues that the two separate 'patent philosophies' emerged as results of unique historical situations and that the reason as to why they have been able to maintain their distinct natures is that a similar ideological pressure has not been present since. The patent law of the United States, which is based on an 'inventor philosophy', was the product of the ideological currents of the movement toward American independence. This philosophy is friendly to inventors and entrust them with all responsibility over their inventions. Its individualistic and democratic character resonated well with the country's anti-colonial and anti-monarchical political campaign. A similar ideological pressure to revise fundamental opinions on technology and law has not emerged since. Virtually all European nations are today part of the European Patent Organization which administers the world's only true regional patent office. This European system is based on an 'invention philosophy' which was designed in the late 19th century by German industrialists. This philosophy is anti-monopoly and sees the State as a guardian of the public benefits which arise from technological novelties. Due to German industrial efficiency, it was used to model European patent law. Although both philosophies have proved viable, the case of patent law suggests that the role of legal philosophy must be reduced. Apart from being crucial in the creation of a new legal system, this study argues for the need to drastically reconsider the relationship between substantive and formal law. Both patent philosophies have consistently lost importance over time to the point where they today support two formally very similar systems.
Degree ProgramGraduate College