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Title: Patenting dyes and drugs in Britain, 1860-1960 : case studies on the role of patents in chemical science and industry
Author: Muhammad, Amran
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2004
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A patent is a limited monopoly granted to an inventor by the state in return for the disclosure of new useful inventions. While the rights of patentees are protected and rewarded through royalties and licensing fees, for example, other enterprising bodies can develop new industries for the benefit of the public. Thus, the patent system has always been considered to be in a delicate position in serving both the rights of inventors and the interests of the public. However, in examining the relationship between scientists and the patent system in Britain between 1860 and 1960, it appears neither the rights of inventors nor the interests of the public were foremost in the actual operation of the patent system. On the contrary, the empirical evidence gathered in this thesis suggests that the British patent system had actually become a conservative and self-serving system, perpetuating the interests of its own practitioners - patent agents, lawyers, and judges. At the outset, the thesis questions a common perception that "British scientific tradition" discourages scientists from taking out patents, by showing that British chemists have a long and uninterrupted patenting tradition, and that it was often the British patent system itself that actually hindered scientists from taking out patents. Furthermore, the resistance to patenting generated by occupational conflict between the medical profession and chemists exacerbated the difficulty of patenting for British scientists. The thesis illustrates how British chemists experienced consistent difficulty with the British patent system. The chemists' patenting activity took place in the contexts of the emergence of the science-based chemical industry starting from the mid-nineteenth century characterised by the industrialisation and internationalisation of inventions, which consequently gave the patent system a key role in protecting the industry. While the rise of the new science-based chemical industry saw chemists play a crucial role in inventing new products and processes, the patent system, which was supposed to protect these new science-based chemical inventions, was slow to change in the face of entrenched legal interests and political and economic doctrine. It emerges from this study that patents and the patent system played at least as much of a role in the "decline" of the British chemical industry as the oft-cited lack of research, manufacturing, management and marketing investments in the British science-based chemical industry itself. The significance of these historical discussions for current patent reform in science is considered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available