Call for papers: International Diversity in Patent Cultures – a historical perspective 

A workshop supported by the AHRC Network grant: ‘Rethinking Patent

University of Leeds, 15-16 May 2014

Deadline for paper proposals: 25th February.

International diversity among patent systems has been familiar to
historians since at least Edith Tilton Penrose’s classic The Economics of the International Patent System (1951). While some nations, e.g. the USA, permitted great liberality in what could be patented and how patents could be used, many European nations prohibited the patenting of medicines and weaponry (among much else) and imposed strict conditions on patentees’ exercise of their rights. The variety of patent systems across the globe was not dissolved by the 1883 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Indeed as Rajesh Sagar and Tshimanga Kongolo have shown, imperial regimes typically imposed their distinctive patent systems on colonies; this in turn generated further diversity e.g. the hybrid and variant forms adopted in parts of the British Empire. By contrast, other nations resisted pressure to institute patent systems well into the twentieth century, adopting other approaches to the management of invention.

This workshop explores the factors underlying such diversity and how it was managed, challenged, and in some respects harmonized by the mid 20th century.

From IP and IT Conferences
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