Timeline of privileges regarding the commercialization and use of knowledge. Part 1: before 1980

This is work in progress, and is part of a larger project on timelines. This particular timeline is unfinished, and may contain errors.

Timeline of privileged regarding the commercialization and use of knowledge

Timeline collection: Part 1: before 1980, Part 2: 1980 to 1999, and Part 3: 2000 and after, and specialized timelines.

Part 1, before 1980

1421. Florence: Patent to Filippo Brunelleschi for a crane barge to carry marble.

1440. Johannes Gutenberg invents a printing press process that makes it possible to inexpensively mass produce text and graphical images.

1474. Venetian Statute on Industrial Brevets, Venice

Therefore, the decision has been made that, by authority of this Council, any person in this city who makes any new and ingenious contrivances not made heretofore in our Dominion, shall, as soon as it is perfected so that it can be used and exercised, give notice of the same to the office of our Provveditori di Comun, having been forbidden up to ten years to any other person in any territory and place of ours to make a contrivance in the form and resemblance of that one without the consent and license of the author. And if nevertheless someone should make it, the aforesaid author and inventor will have the liberty to cite him before any office of this city, which office will force the aforesaid infringer to pay him the sum of one hundred ducats and immediately destroy the contrivance. But our Government will be free, at its complete discretion, to take and use for its needs any of the said contrivances and instruments, with this condition, however, that no one other than the authors shall operate them.

1502. Aldus Manutius’s Petition against Counterfeiters, Venice.

Therefore, in order to continue delivering this worthy and useful endeavour to the whole world, [he] begs this most solemn Senate that no one but him may make, counterfeit, or print books with his Greek and Latin chancery types and any other such types he might devise in future, nor to bring counterfeited prints from foreign lands into this dominion for the next ten years, on pain of loss of the types and books and 200 ducats each time they are counterfeited, these fines to be paid so that a third goes to a charitable institution, a third to the executors, and another to the accuser.

1503. Aldus Manutius’s Warning against the Printers of Lyon, Venice (1503)

1515: Galliot Du Pré’s Privilege, (1515)


  • The Netherlands: Letter of 27 January 1522 from Erasmus to Willibald Pirckheimer about counterfeiting of scholarly works published by Basel printer Johann Froben, with request for an exclusive two years’ privilege from the Emperor for all of Froben’s future publications.
  • Spain. Royal decree of King Carlos V to Catalan Cabi Guillen, granting a Royal Letters Patent for the invention of a tool to navigate a boat in calm water.

1623. The British Statute of Monopolies, more formerly titled, “An Act concerning Monopolies and Dispensations with Penal Laws, and the Forfeitures thereof.” While placing major restraints on the granting of monopolies, the Act allowed that:

“6. Provided also, and be it declared and enacted, that any declaration before mentioned shall not extend to any letters patents and grants of privilege for the term of fourteen years or under, hereafter to be made, of the sole working or making of any manner of new manufacturers within this realm, to the first investor or inventors of such manufactures, which others at the time of making such letters patents and grants shall not use, so as also they be not contrary to the law, nor mischievous to the state, by raising prices of commodities at home or hurt of trade, or generally inconvenient: the said fourteen years to be accompanied from the date of the first letters patents or grant of such privilege hereafter to be made . . ..” (21 Jac. I. c. 8.)

1661. Spain. Gaceta de Madrid, the precursor of the current State Bulletin (BOE), a publication to disseminate information about the granting of privileges for inventions.

1676. Decree on Sculptures, Paris (1676)

1710. The Statute of Anne, with the formal title of “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned,” which was enacted in 1709, entered into force on April 10, 1710. It was considered Great Britain’s first modern copyright statute.

1762. Royal declaration on privileges granted to inventors, Paris (1762)

1779. Spain. Order of June 25, 1779, regarding funding of prizes to stimulate innovation.

1790. US: Congress passes the first patent act for the United States of America on April 10, 1790.

1791 France: French patent law of 1791. “All new discoveries are the property of the author; to assure the inventor the property and temporary enjoyment of his discovery, there shall be delivered to him a patent for five, ten or fifteen years”.

1793: US: A new patent act is passed, largely drafted by Thomas Jefferson. The 1793 act limits patents to U.S. citizens.

1811. Spain. Following an invasion by Napoleon, the first national patent law in Spain was imposed, based upon the French patent system.

1812. Law as to privileges for inventions in Russia, including Poland and Siberia, but excluding Finland. Enacted by imperial decree of June 17, 1812. No patents are granted for munitions of war (guns, projectiles, torpedoes, etc.), unless adopted for other purposes, where the government has right to use the inventions without compensation. Patent terms are 3, 5 or 10 years.

1814. London. The Copyright Act of 1814 established a copyright term of 28 years from the first day of publication, or the life of the author.

1817. The first Patent Act came into force in the Netherlands. The term of the patents were five, ten or fifteen years. (In 1869, the Act was abolished).

1832. Mexico. Decree of May 7, 1832 provides that “every discovery or new invention can be patented,” for terms of 6 or 10 years. Patents are available to the “first introducer of a new invention which as not been used in Mexico.” Exceptions to patentability include pharmaceutical compounds, plans for working estates, or for financial combinations or the application of known motors to industrial purposes. The Mexico decree provided the authority to revoke the patent if it is not worked within 2 years of the grant.

1834. Wheaton v. Peters, Washington D.C. The first U.S. Supreme Court case on copyright rejects common law copyright, protects access to court reporters.

1836. US: On July 4, President Andrew Jackson signed the Patent Act of 1836

1837. US Senate Committee on Patents and the Patent Office established September 7, 1837.

1841. Thomas Babington Macaulay’s speech in the House of Commons on 5 February 1841 against extending the copyright term to sixty years after death. The copyright term extension was rejected by a vote of 45 to 38.


  • Copyright Act, London of 1842. The term was the life of the author plus 7 years, or 42 years from the first date of publication, whichever was longer.
  • The Finland Patent law was passed on March 30, 1842, but did not come into operation until June 1, 1876.


  • UK: Caldwell v. Van Vlissingen, Court of Chancery (1851), 9 Hare 425.
  • New York Times calls for abolition of patents.

    The day, we apprehend, is coming when the whole system of patent granting will be done away with. The genius of the inventors will be directly rewarded by a bounty from Government, if his invention be of value; and if valueless, if will not have the prestige of a patent to disguise its vanity. We much doubt if the true policy of the public, and of the inventor, too, does not directly point to the abrogation of all protection laws. Our views may find expression hereafter. New York Times. October 16, 1851.


  • U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Duchesne, 60 U.S. 19 How. 183 183 (1856)

    The rights of property and exclusive use granted to a patentee do not extend to a foreign vessel lawfully entering one of our ports and the use of such improvement in the construction, fitting out, or equipment of such vessel while she is coming into or going out of a port of the United States, is not an infringement of the rights of an American patentee, provided it was placed upon her in a foreign port, and authorized by the laws of the country to which she belongs.

  • India: The Act VI of 1856 on Protection of Inventions Based on The British Patent Law of 1852. Certain “Exclusive Privileges” were granted to inventors of new manufacturers for a period of 14 Years.

1858. Bolivia. Law of May 8, 1858 provides for patents of 10 to 15 years.


  • India: The Patent Act Modified As Act XV.
  • UK: An Act to amend the Law concerning Patents for Inventions with respect to inventions for Improvements in Instrumements and Munitions of War, April 8, 1859. This Act allowed the crown to make certain patents secret.


  • The International Association for the Progress of the Social Sciences at Brussels in 1863 proposed the creation of an international patent union, made up of the principal states of Europe and America, with their colonies, to spend not more than 1 million pounds per year, to reward new inventions, in return for eliminating the patent monopoly after 3 years.
  • Germany: The Prussian government, on the occasion of the German Federal Assembly Session of December 31, 1863, “gave utterance to the doubt whether under present circumstances, Patents for inventions by be considered either necessary or useful to industry.”

1864: Argentina: Law of October 11, 1874 creates a patent office modeled after the United States, with patents granted for terms of 5, 10 or 15 years for “all useful inventions and discovery excepting pharmaceutical compositions.” (Johnson and Johnson, 1890)


  • Count von Bismarck sends a message to the North German Federal Parliament on December 10, 1868. Discussing the possibility of “completely abolishing the Patent system within the limits of the Confederation (A resolution recommended by economical theory, and which public opinion has been sufficiently prepared for), instead of making any further and necessarily unsuccessful attempts at reform.”
  • UK. Mr. Macfie, a member of the parliament, makes a speech and a motion to abolish the patent system, on May 28, 1868. Among other things, Macfie proposes an annual contribution to 200,000 pounds to a prize fund to reward new inventions. In this proposal, the largest prize would be 10,000 pounds, and the smallest prize would be 50 pounds.


  • Colombia: Patent law of May 13, 1869. Patent terms were from 5 to 20 years.
  • The Netherlands: On June 22, 1869, the Second Chamber of the Parliament votes to abolish the patent system, by a vote of 48 to 8. The right to grant patents in the Netherlands was not restored until the Dutch Patent Act of 1910, and patents were not granted until 1912.
  • UK. An article in the Economist about the UK debate over the “patent question” offered this editorial observation:
    We come, then, to the conclusion that it is for the general interest that Patent-Laws should be abolished, and that their abolition will do no great harm to any one — least of all, to the great mass of inventors or improvers. June 5, 1869.


  • Germany. Empire of Germany patent law is passed on May 25, 1877. The patent law exempts patents on inventions on food, medicines, and substances produced by chemical process, but allows for method patents in those areas. The Germany patent act provided an additional exception to the exclusive right for cases involving use “for the arm or navy or in the interest of public welfare,” where the state or the empire provided “adequate compensation.” There were also the authority to revoke patents in cases where the patent was not worked in Germany “to a suitable extent” after 3 years, or if the grant of a license to others is in the interest of “public welfare,” and there is evidence the patent holder refused to license the invention for adequate compensation. (Johnson and Johnson, 1890)
  • US. Compulsory licensing of patents proposed in S. 300, 45th Cong., 1st Sess. (1877).

1878. At a preparatory conference leading up to the creation of the Paris convention, “metropolitan” countries agree to extend their patent laws and systems to their colonies (Penrose, 1951).

1880: Ecuador. October 18, 1880, law for the protection of patents. Patents are not less than 10 years or more than 15 years.


  • Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property of 1883. The agreement was reached on March 20, 1883, in Paris. The initial members of the International Convention and Protocol were Belgium, Brazil, Spain, France, Guatemala, Italy, Holland, Portugal, Salvador, Servia, and Switzerland. In 19 Articles and a 7 paragraph protocol, primarily focused on agreement to provide the subjects or citizens of each of the contracting parties the same rights as “their own subjects or citizens,” as regards the protection of industrial property. The Agreement also established the Bureau International de l’Union pour la Protection de la Propriete Industrielle.
  • Chile: Article 152 of the Chilean Constitution, dated May 1883, accords to authors the exclusive proprietorship of his discovery or invention for a limited period of time.
  • Swiss Copyright Act 1883.
  • United Kingdom: An Act to amend and consolidate the Law relating to Patents for Inventions, Registration of Designs, and of Trademarks, of 25 August 1883. The provisions on compulsory license covered three grounds. (a) The patent is not worked in the Untied Kingdom; or (b) The reasonable requirements of the public with respect to the invention cannot be supplied; or (c) Any person is prevented from working or using to the best advantage an invention of which he is possessed.” In such cases, “the Board of Trade may order the patentee to grant licenses on such terms as to the amount of royalties, security for payment, or otherwise, as the Board, having regard to the nature of the invention and th circumstances of the case, may deem just.” In terms of Crown use, “the officers or authorities administering any department of the service of the Crown may, by themselves, their agents, contractors, or others, at any time after the application, use the invention for the services of the Crown on terms to be before or after the use thereof agreed on, with the approval of the Treasury . . . or, in default of such agreement, on such terms as may be settled by the Treasury after hearing all parties involved.”


  • Great Britain. Bill to amend Law respecting International and Colonial Copyright, 1886
  • Congo Free State: A law of October 29, 1886 provides that “every discovery and improvement capable of being worked as an object of industry of commerce is patentable. The Congo Act includes 20 year patents of “invention, importation, and improvement.”
  • The Berne Convention of the 9th September 1886 for the creation of An International Union for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, September 9, 1886, completed completed at PARIS on May 4, 1896.


  • Switzerland. In the period before 1848, patents systems for protecting patents were generally decentralized, diverse and often ad hoc or non-existent, depending the region, except for a brief two year experiment with patents from 1801 to 1803. The first truly national patent law for Switzerland was enacted in 1888. According to Dominique S. Ritter, “The law was so limited in scope, however, that its usefulness for patent protection was at best dubious.” Among other things, the law only protected inventions for which a mechanical model was supplied, effectively exempting most of the inventions in the chemical sector from patent protection. The 1888 also provided that the Swiss Federal Assembly, may, at the request of the Federal Council or of a Canton, appropriate a patent for the common use of the republic, for a fee set by a Federal tribunal.
  • Japan: Imperial Proclamation No. 84, of December 18, 1888. Articles of food, drink, fashion or medicine are not patentable. Patent rights are 5, 10 or 15 years. Patents for war purposes or which are deemed “important” for general use many be denied, or subject to additional conditions. Infringers are liable for imprisonment of up to one year.
  • India. The Inventions and Designs Act of 1888. Features of the India patent law in 1988 included: Inventions are considered new if not publicly used or known in British India or the United Kingdom. The Indian patent law provides procedures for requesting and obtaining compulsory licenses, in cases where “The exclusive privilege is not worked in India,” where “the reasonable requirements of the public cannot be supplied,” or where a person is “prevented from using or working an invention which he is possessed.” The fee for a compulsory license petition is 50 Rupees. (Johnson and Johnson).

1891. US: International Copyright Act (The Chace Act), Washington D.C. (1891). For the first time, the copyrights of foreign authors were recognized.

1893: The United International Bureaux for the Protection of Intellectual Property (BIRPI) was created to administer the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. The BIRPI was located in Berne.

1894. US Supreme Court ruled on November 19, 1894 in Schillinger v. United States, 155 U.S. 163 (1894) that the United States government was not subject to lawsuits for patent infringement, on the grounds it had not waived sovereign immunity for intentional torts.

1895. US: George Selden received Patent No. 549,160 on November 5, 1895, for a road engine. Selden was a patent lawyer, The patent was first filed in 1879, and Selden gamed the system to delay its issuance for 16 years, when the automobile industry was becoming viable. Selden did not manufacture automobiles, but sued those who did. Henry Ford fought the Selden patent in extended litigation.

1896. The Berne Convention was revised in Paris. Among other things, protection was extended to photographs.

1898. UK: Hulton and Bleakley’s petition granted for compulsory license to a patent on improvements in machines to print newspapers. The patent owner had licensed to the patent for exclusive use in Manchester England to an evening newspaper.. A competitor petitioned for a compulsory license, saying the refusal to license to other newspapers was not consistent with making the invention available for the “reasonable requirement of the public,” defined either as the competitors in the business of selling newspapers or the persons who wished to read newspapers by competitors. John Cutler, Reports of Patent, Design, Trade Mark, and other cases. Vol. XV. Digest of cases reported in 1898.

1900. Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was revised at Brussels, Belgium, on December 14, 1900.


  • Section 38, subsection 1 of the British Patent Act of 1907 curbed the practice of using contractual obligations in patent licenses to restrict or demand the use or acquisition of goods sold by independent third parties, or goods not protected by the patent.
  • June 21, 1907. The admendments to the Swiss patent law eliminated the requirement for a working mechanical model, and effectively extended patent protection to chemical processes. Chemical products or substances were not protected, however, and chemical process related to the fabrication of products for human or animal nturiaon were also excluded.

1908. Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works revised at Berlin on November 13, 1908. Among other things, the Berne Convention was amended to add the prohibition to the use of formalities as a condition to acquire, exercise and enjoy rights. (1908 Berlin Text, Article 4(2).) The revisions also introduced a minimum term of life plus 50 years.

1909. The US Copyright Act of 1909. Among other things, the Act of 1909 introduced a compulsory license for music compositions.


  • The Netherlands enacted legislation to restore the patent system, which had been abolished in 1869.
  • US: Addressing the issue decided by the Supreme Court in 1894 in Schillinger v. United States, the Congress created a right of compensation for use of patents by the federal government. The Act of June 25, 1910, titled “An Act to Provide Additional Protection for Owners of Patents of the United States, and for Other Purposes.”

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, whenever an invention described in and covered by a patent of the United States shall hereafter be used by the United States without license of the owner thereof or lawful right to use the same, such owner may recover reasonable compensation for such use by suit in the Court of Claims: . . . And provided further, That the benefits of this act shall not inure to any patentee who, when he makes such claim, is in the employment or service of the government of the United States or the assignee of any such patentee, nor shall this act apply to any device discovered or invented by such employee during the time of his employment or service.

1911. Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was revised at Washington, DC, June 2, 1911.


  • US. A March 11, 1912 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in dispute over patents on Mimeograph technologies, Henry v. A. B. Dick Co., 224 U.S. 1 (1912) enforces restrictions in patent licenses that tie the license to use the patent to the purchase of unpatented supplies to use the patented machine.

    “This machine is sold by the A. B. Dick Company with the license restriction that it may be used only with the stencil paper, ink, and other supplies made by A. B. Dick Company, Chicago, U.S.A.”

    (See: Would Put Patents In The Trust Class; House Committee Is Preparing Sweeping Amendments To The Present Laws, New York Times, July 19, 1912)

  • US: Oldfield Revision and Codification of Patent Statutes. Hearing before the Committee on Patents, House of Reprsentatives, on H.R. 23417. April 17, 1912. These hearings focused on proposals for compulsory licensing, and provide an extensive record of U.S. views on this topic, in 1912.

1914. The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 (Pub.L. 63-212) was enacted October 14, 1914. Among other things, the proponents of the Clayton Act sought to reverse the 1912 precedent set in the Henry v. A. B. Dick.

SEC. 3. That it shall be unlawful for any person . . . to lease or make a sale or contract for sale of goods, wares, merchandise, machinery, supplies or other commodities, whether patented or unpatented, . where the effect . . . maybe to substantially lesson competition or tend to, create a monopoly in any line of commerce.


  • US: Following the 1914 Clayton Act, the Federal Trade Commission obtains a consent order on May 25, 1917, from A.B. Dick company, reversing the result of the 1912 U.S. Supreme Court case on the issue of tying and patent.
  • Under the threat of the government using eminent domain against key patent rights, on July 24, 1917, the Manufacturers Aircraft Association (MAA) was created to manage a patent pool for airplanes.


  • US: April 6, 1922, Senator Stanley introduced S. 3410, a bill that proposed that patents “shall contain a proviso to the effect that if such patent granted is not worked or put into operation, so as to result in actual product in the United States . . . in reasonable quantities, within a reasonable time,” the U.S. would have the right to issue a compulsory license, subject to the payment of reasonable royalties. Royalties would be on an “equitable basis according to the circumstances in each case,” and not less than .5% or more than 10%.
  • US: The Senate held hearings on revisions of the patent law, focusing extensively on proposals for compulsory licensing of patents. April 6, May 1,3 and 4 1922.

1925. Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was revised at The Hague, Netherlands, on November 6, 1925. Among other things, the Paris Convention adopted the following article:

Article 5ter – Patents: Patented Devices Forming Part of Vessels, Aircraft, or Land Vehicles
In any country of the Union the following shall not be considered as infringements of the rights of a patentee:
(i) the use on board vessels of other countries of the Union of devices forming the subject of his patent in the body of the vessel, in the machinery, tackle, gear and other accessories, when such vessels temporarily or accidentally enter the waters of the said country, provided that such devices are used there exclusively for the needs of the vessel;
(ii) the use of devices forming the subject of the patent in the construction or operation of aircraft or land vehicles of other countries of the Union, or of accessories of such aircraft or land vehicles, when those aircraft or land vehicles temporarily or accidentally enter the said country.

The text of Article 5ter was originally drafted by the International Chamber of Commerce, and successfully submitted to the Conference in the Hague, by the French government. (Ladas, Vol 3, page 418).

1928. Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works revised at Rome on June 2, 1928. Among other things, the moral right to attribution was added to the minimum rights, in Article 6.bis.

1933. US: Compulsory license authority for TVA. With regard to patents to use and employ the most efficacious and economical process for the production of fixed nitrogen, or any essential ingredient of fertilizer, or any method of improving and cheapening the production of hydroelectric power, remedies for patent infringement by the Tennessee Valley Authority are limited to payment of recovery of reasonable compensation for such infringement. Public Law 106-113. May 18, 1933, 16 USC Sec. 831r.

1934. Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was revised at London, United Kingdom, on June 2, 1934.

1935. US: Hearings on Pooling of patents before the committee on Patents, House of Representatives, Seventy-fourth Congress, focusing on H. R. 4523, a bill providing for the recording of patent pooling agreements and contracts with the commissioner of patents. Hearings held February 11, 14, 20, 25, 28, March 7, October 15-18, December 2-6, 9-10, 12, 1935.

1938. US: On July 9, 1938, Senator King, a Democrat, urged legislation for compulsory licensing of unused patents as one way of curbing monopolistic tendencies in business.

1940. USA. On June 15, 1940, the Congress enacted, 22 USC Sec. 526.

“The Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Navy shall in all contracts or agreements for the sale of such mateériel fully protect the rights of all citizens of the United States who have patent rights in and to any such mateériel which is authorized to be sold and the funds collected for royalties on such patents shall be paid to the owners and holders of such patents.”

1941. US. Final Report and Recommendations of the Temporary National Economic Committee (TNEC), Senate Doc. No. 35, pp. 36—7 (1941), 77th Cong., 1st Sess., which called for statutory provisions for compulsory licensing of patents.

1942. US. TThe U.S. Senate Patent Committee holds hearings to consider federal oversight of “reasonable royalties” for patent licenses. August 3, 1942. The Committee was particularly focused on patent pools involving Standard Oil of New Jersey and I.G. Farbenindustrie of Germany concerning patents on aviation gasoline, synthetic rubber and explosives. Earlier the government used its antitrust laws to make available synthetic rubber patents held by Standard Oil.


  • Convention on International Civil Aviation, Signed at Chicago, on 7 December 1944 (Chicago Convention). Article 27 created a global exception from siezure on patent claims, for aircraft and the spare parts and equipment needed to maintain such aircraft.


  • US: Atomic Energy Act of 1946. (P.L. 79-585). In setting out how the federal government would control and manage the nuclear technology, in 1946 the Congress eliminated patents for inventions using atomic power for military purposes, including the production of fissionable material, while allowing private patents for inventions using atomic energy for civilian purposes, subject to the right of compulsory licensing for patents in the public interest.
  • US: Lanham Act on trademarks. July 5, 1946.


  • The Berne Convention was revised in Brussels, June 26, 1948.
  • The General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, December 10, 1948

1949. In September 1949, French Senator Henri Longchambon proposed to the Council of Europe the creation of a European Patent Office.

1950. US. The Congress considers legislation to establish compulsory licensing of patents not domestically worked within 3 years.

1952. The Universal Copyright Convention.

1954. The U.S. Energy Act of 1954 (Public Law 83-703, August 30, 1954) relaxed restrictions of 1946 legislation that eliminated patents on processes for generating nuclear energy or fissile materials. The compulsory licensing provisions of the 1954 act were controversial and widely reported in reports from daily newspapers.

1955. Danish Law of Pharmacy of 1955 prohibits the use of a trademark for pharmaceutical products after twenty years.

1956. US. On January 24, 1956, Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr. announced the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. and its subsidiary, Western Electric, would open all of their patents to any American concern desiring to use them, as a partial settlement to an antitrust action.


  • US: February 21, 1958. RCA was charged in a criminal indictment regarding a patent monopoly that was stifling electronics research.
  • US: The National Aeronautics and Space Act, Pub. L. No. 85-568 (Jul. 29, 1958), establishes a patent policy for NASA, and creates the Inventions and Contributions Board (ICB), which administers a system of cash prizes for innovation.
  • August 2, 1958. The F.T.C. charged six large pharmaceutical companies with anticompetitive acts relating to the patenting and licensing of patents on antibiotic drugs.
  • Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was revised at Lisbon, Portugal, on October 31, 1958. Among other things, the United States blocked a proposal to require royalties in cases of compulsory licenses, unless a provision was added to provide for an exception in cases of antitrust violations.

1959. UNESCO, UCC. United State proposal to the Intergovernmental Copyright Committee (IGC), the governing committee of the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC), calling for a new agenda item entitled “Assistance to and Consultation with States, not yet Parties to the Universal Copyright Convention and/or the Berne Convention.” Munich, October 1959.

1960. BIRPI moved to Geneva.


  • The Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations, October 26, 1961.
  • International Convention For The Protection Of New Varieties Of Plants, December 2, 1961

1962. US: The Kefauver Harris Amendment amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires evidence that a new drug is both safe and effective, rasing the costs of drug development.

1963. The Convention on the Unification of Certain Points of Substantive Law on Patents for Invention, also known as the Strasbourg Patent Convention, signed by the Member States of the Council of Europe on November 27, 1963.

1966. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966. (Entry into force 3 January 1976.)


  • The Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization, or WIPO Convention, was signed at Stockholm, Sweden, on July 14, 1967 and entered into force on April 26, 1970. (BIRPI becomes WIPO)
  • Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was revised at Stockholm, Sweden, on July 14, 1967.
  • The Berne Convention was revised in Stockholm, July 14, 1967, including the controversial proposal for a “Protocol Regarding Developing Countries.”


  • US: March 20, 1969. The New York Times Magazine publishes a moving eight page article titled “The Scandal Of Death And Injury In the Mines; Nobody knows what the cost of a century of neglect has been,” by Ben Franklin, focusing on the need for federal regulation of mining safety, and the importance of innovation to address mining safety concerns.
  • US: Pub. L. 91-173, Dec. 30, 1969. Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. Amendments to Chapter 22 of the US Code on Mine safety and health, regarding “Studies and research.”

    The Secretary . . . is authorized to make research grants to public and private agencies and organizations and individuals for the purpose of devising simple and effective tests to measure, detect, and treat respiratory and pulmonary impairments in active and inactive coal miners. Any grant made pursuant to this subsection shall be conditioned upon all information, uses, products, processes, patents, and other developments resulting from such research being available to the general public, except to the extent of such exceptions and limitations as the Secretary . . . may deem necessary in the public interest.


  • House of Commons debate on Copyright regarding the (Stockholm Protocol)

    HC Deb 25 February 1970 vol 796 c1192 1192
    §41. Mr. Gregory asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a further statement on Her Majesty’s Government’s policy towards the Stockholm Protocol for the benefit of developing countries which was added to the Berne Copyright Convention in 1967.

    §Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody We remain opposed to this Protocol. However, we are participating in an internationally-agreed programme of work which aims at finding a solution to international copyright problems acceptable to both developed and developing countries.

    §Mr. Gregory These are important matters for developing countries. When might we have a result from these efforts?

    §Mrs. Dunwoody There is a work programme which envisages drafting meetings in May and September of this year and a diplomatic conference to revise the two major international copyright conventions in 1971. I think that this is the most practical means by which we can try to find an answer to the problem.

  • Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), June 19, 1970, in Washington, DC.
  • India: The Patents Act (Act 39 Of 1970), September 19, 1970. The changes came into force on April 20, 1972. Chapter II, Section 5 of the bill was titled: “Inventions where only methods or processes of manufacturing patentable.” Most importantly, this included “claiming substances intended for use, or capable of being used, as food or medicine or drug.” Emulating earlier legislation by Germany, India allowed patents on processes but not pharmaceutical products. The 1971 India patent law, together with other government policies, stimulated the development of a strong domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing sector.
  • United States Plant Variety Protection Act, Pub. L. 91-577 Dec. 24, 1970. Among other things, the 1970 act created a compulsory licensing regime, 7 U.S.C. § 2404 – Public interest in wide usage, to “insure an adequate supply of fiber, food, or feed in this country and that the owner is unwilling or unable to supply the public needs for the variety at a price which may reasonably be deemed fair.”
  • US. The Congress enacts a statute for “Mandatory Licensing” of patents necessary to comply with certain provisions in the clean air act. 42 USC 7608, Public Law 91-604. December 31, 1970.


  • US: Senator McClellan tries to repeal the compulsory licensing provisions of the Clean Air Act. Repeal is opposed by the US Department of Justice and the Firestone Tire company. (See below, 1971 hearing on Patent Law Revisions)
  • The Berne Convention was revised in Paris, July 24, 1971. The 1971 revision included a 3,881 word Appendix, on “Special Provisions Regarding Developing Countries.” The Berne Appendix was presented as a replacement for the early Stockholm protocol for developing countries. Largely shaped by lobbyists for European publishers, the Appendix created a highly complex and restrictive set of procedures for compulsory licenses on works. The Appendix was rarely used. Critics of the Appendix note similarities between the 1971 Appendix and the 30 August 2003 agreement on exports of medicines under a compulsory license, and the WPO Stakeholders platform for persons who are blind or have other disabilities — agreements that provide theoretical benefits, but which are difficult to use, and yield few real benefits to end users.
  • US: President Nixon’s Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, August 23, 1971 and statement of Government Patent Policy as printed in 36 F.R. 16889.


  • The International Convention For The Protection Of New Varieties Of Plants of December 2, 1961, was revised in Geneva on November 10, 1972.


  • United States v. Glaxo Group Ltd., 410 U.S. 52, 64 (1973), which held that “Mandatory selling on specified terms and compulsory patent licensing at reasonable charges are recognized antitrust remedies.” Decided January 22, 1973.
  • The Convention on the Grant of European Patents of 5 October 1973. This is also known as the European Patent Convention (EPC). The EPC created the European Patent Organisation (EPO), and a harmonized system for applying for patents in its member states.


  • 1974. Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. May 1, 1974
  • Agreement between the United Nations and the World Intellectual Property Organization. The agreement came into effect December 17, 1974. A Protocol incorporating the Agreement was signed by Kurt Waldheim, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Arpad Bogsch, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, on January 21, 1975.

    Article 1 Recognition
    The United Nations recognizes the World Intellectual Property Organization (hereinafter called the ” Organization “) as a specialized agency and as being responsible for taking appropriate action in accordance with its basic instrument, treaties and agreements administered by it, inter alia, for promoting creative intellectual activity and for facilitating the transfer of technology related to industrial property to the developing countries in order to accelerate economic, social and cultural development, subject to the competence and responsibilities of the United Nations and its organs, particularly the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, as well as of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and of other agencies within the United Nations system. . .

    Article 5 Recommendations of the United Nations
    (a) The Organization, having regard to the obligation of the United Nations to promote the objectives set forth in Article 55 of the Charter of the United Nations and the function and power of the Economic and Social Council, under Article 62 of the Charter, to make or initiate studies and reports with respect to international economic, social, cultural, educational, health and related matters and to make recommendations concerning these matters to the specialized agencies concerned, and having regard also to the responsibility of the United Nations, under Articles 58 and 63 of the Charter, to make recommendations for the co-ordination of the policies and activities of such specialized agencies, agrees to arrange for the submission, as soon as possible, to the appropriate organ of the Organization, of all formal recommendations which the United Nations may make to it.
    (b) The Organization agrees to enter into consultation with the United Nations upon request with respect to such recommendations, and in due course to report to the United Nations on the action taken by the Organization or by its members to give effect to such recommendations, or on the other results of their consideration.

  • US Federal Nonnuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 1974, Pub. L. 93-577, Sec. 9, Dec. 31, 1974.


  • January 3, 1975. Governor Nelson Rockefeller proposes legislation to permit pharmacies to substitute generic drugs that are equivalent to the brand name product the physician had prescribed.
  • WHO Director General Dr. Halfdan Mahler calls upon the May 1975 World Health Assembly to address the “urgent need to ensure that most essential drugs are available at a reasonable price” The Assembly adopts WHA28.66.


  • February 23 to March 2, 1976. Tunis Model Law on Copyright adopted by Committee of Government Experts convened by the Tunisan Government in Tunis, with assistance from WIPO and UNESCO.
  • May 30, 1976. UNCTAD resolution 89(IV) of May 30, 1976, called for an international group of experts to draft an international code of conduct on the transfer of technology.
  • October 19, 1976. The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, enacted as Pub. L. No. 94-553, 90 Stat. 2541


  • The Bangui Agreement of March 2, 1977. Among other things, the agreement created the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), and established a common system of intellectual property protection for its member states.
  • The World Health Organization published its first list of “essential drugs,” which are defined as “basic, indispensible and necessary for the health of the populations” in developing countries.

1978. The International Convention For The Protection Of New Varieties Of Plants of December 2, 1961, was revised in Geneva on November 10, 1972, and on October 23, 1978.


  • The Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization was amended, September 28, 1979.
  • Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was amended on September 28, 1979.
  • The Berne Convention was amended on September 28, 1979.

Appendix – Selected biography

  • Arguments before the Committee on Patents of the House of Representatives, conjointly with the Senate Committee on Patents, on H.R. 19853, to amend and consolidate the acts respecting copyright. June 6, 7, 8, and 9, 1906.
  • Clark, Alexander Melville; Analytical summaries of the Patents, designs, and trade marks’ act, 1883, and of the patent laws of all foreign countries and British colonies, London 1884. Link here.
  • Edith Penrose, The Economics of the International Patent System, John Hopkins Press, 1951.
  • Frederic M. Scherer, Patents: economics, policy, and measurement, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2005
  • George Haven Putnam, The question of copyright; comprising the text of the copyright laws of the United States, a summary of the copyright laws at present in force in the chief countries of the world. (1896) Link: here.
  • History of the Patent System: Hearings Before the Committee on Patents. Washington, DC: GPO, January 10, 1912. Link here.
  • James Johnson and John Henry Johnson, The Patentee’s Manual: A Treatise on the Law and Practice of Patents for Inventions, with an Appendix of Statutes, Rules, and Foreign and Colonial Patent Laws, International Convention and Protocol. Sixth Edition. Longmans, Green and Co. New York. 1890.
  • Josef Kohlerm, Die Patentgesetze aller Völker: The patent laws of all nations, Volume 1, R.v. Decker, 1906.
  • Otto Raymond Barnett, “The Oldfield Bill (H. R. 23417.)” The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 22, No. 5 (Mar., 1913), pp. 383-397.
  • Patent Law Revision, Hearings before Subcommittee on Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights, Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate. 92nd congress, 1st session. May 11, 12 and 13, 1971. Links: Part 1here. Part 2, here.
  • Paul Goldstein, International copyright: principles, law and practice. Oxford University Press. 2001.
  • Paul K. Saint-Amour, The Copywrights: intellectual Property and the literary Imagination, Cornell University Press, 2003.
  • Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org.
  • Report on Copyright Legislation by the Register of Copyrights. GPO 1904. Link here.
  • Revision of Statutes Relating to Patents, Hearings before the Committee on Patents, United States Senate, on S.3325 and S. 3410. Bills to Amend Sections 4886 and 4887 of the Revised Statutes Relating to Patents. 67th Congress, 2nd Session, April 6, May 1,3 and 4 1922.
  • Richard Rogers Bowker, Copyright and it’s literature, 1886.
  • Richard Rogers Bowker, Copyright, its history and its law; being a summary of the principles and practice of copyright with special reference to the American code of 1909 and the British act of 1911 (1912) Link: here.
  • Robert Andrew Macfie, Copyright and patents for inventions : pleas and plans for cheaper books and greater industrial freedom, with due regard to international relations, the claims of talent, the demands of trade, and the wants of the people being a sequel to “Recent discussions on the abolition of patents for inventions, with suggestions as to international arrangements regarding inventions and copyright, 1869 (1879). (Vol. 1 available from the Internet Archive, here; Vol. 2 available form the Internet Archive, here)
  • Robert Andrew Macfie, Recent Discussions on the Abolition of Patents for Inventions in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Netherlands: Evidence, Speeches, and Papers in Its Favour. London, 1869. (At Internet Archive, here)
  • R.R. Bowker, Copyright, its history and its law; (1912) Link: here.
  • Stephen Pericles Ladas, Patents, Trademarks, and Related Rights: National and International Protection, 1975.
  • The International Copyright Union. Berne Convention, 1886, Paris Convention, 1896, Berlin Convention, 1908. Report of the Delegate of the United States to the International Conference for the Revision of the Berne Copyright Convention, held at Berlin, Germany, October 14 to November 14, 1908. Copyright Office Bulletin No. 13. Washington, DC: GPO 1908. Link here.
  • Thomas Webster, The New Patent law: its history, objects, and provisions ; the Protection of inventions acts, 14 Vict. c.8, & 15 Vict. c.6 ; and the Patent law amendment acts, 15 & 16 Vict. c.83, & 16 Vict. c.5 ; the rules of the commissioners of patents, as revised to April, 1853, and practical forms and proceedings (1853), Third Edition. London: 1853. Link: here.
  • Thorvald Solberg, Copyright Enactments, 1783-1900. Library of Congress, Copyright Office, Bulletin No. 3. Washington, DC: GPO: 1900. Link here.
  • Thorvald Solberg, Copyright enactments of the United States, 1783-1906. Washington: GPO 1906. Link: here.
  • Thorvald Solberg,, Foreign Copyright Laws: A List of the Foreign Copyright Laws Now in Force, with Citations of Printed Texts and Translations, Etc. Copyright Office, Bulletin No. 7. GPO 1904. Link: here.
  • Thorvald Solberg, Memorandum draft of bill to amend and consolidate acts respecting copyright. Copyright Office Bulletin 10. 1905.
Timeline collection: Part 1: before 1980, Part 2: 1980 to 1999, and Part 3: 2000 and after, and specialized timelines.