Awaiting the support of the written description: defining the technical contribution in the emergence of early English patent law
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Technology had made but tentative advances under the aegis of oral communication with merely sporadic demands for a recognisably modern patent system until the late 1700s. Fixity of craft knowledge had a problematic upbringing with guilds propagating stasis under a collectivist encirclement of skills. Emancipation from this feudalistic overhang was associated with mysteries often not tethered to a location; untied by sole-trading sometimes immigrant artisans including apothecaries, applied mathematicians and surgical practitioners, with the use of notebooks to question, record, and faithfully witness explanation and clinical experiences. These vernacular descriptions revealed an inheritable imperative to forego secrecy. Meanwhile, government attempts to administer the phenomenon of invention becoming a democratic asset required that the introducer, as well as the originator, be rewarded. The highly-skilled responded to this security, London’s allure creating a polyglot conurbation, yet one where the utility of early formats of inventive output required but vague commitments to public education. Having finally exposed the inadequacies of oral information-transfer, the parallels of the advent of printing presses and the reach of faith, stimulated access to learned communications. Later, scientific literacy created a new appreciation of vulgar knowledge; this elevation also uncovering novel entrepreneurial chattels; individual property in everyday techniques. The jigsaw next required key visionaries: those who were technologically adept while simultaneously demanding written instruments to stipulate inventive space. The reaction of the Commons was to legislate against monopolies, a response insufficient to foster patents for invention. The mosaic of language initiated a still later seismic shift in the description of scientific phenomena. Publication became the arc of progress through which new fraternities held sway as intellectual networks demanded the utensil of the hypothesis to interpret advances. Contemporaneously, the early adoption of some broad patents provided a realisation whereby, discriminating that which was truly momentous required disclosure of a full written description, the most significant part of which was to become the applicant’s patent specification.
AuthorsRoche, James J
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