Commentary on:
Venetian Statute on Industrial Brevets (1474)

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Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)

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Identifier: i_1474

 

Commentary on the Venetian Statute of 1474

Joanna Kostylo

University of Cambridge, UK

 

Please cite as:
Kostylo, J. (2008) ‘Commentary on the Venetian Statute on Industrial Brevets (1474)', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

1. Full title

2. Abstract

3. Venetian industry and the emergence of proprietary attitudes towards craft knowledge

4. Guilds and corporate ownership of knowledge

5. The emergence of the patent system

6. Filippo Brunelleschi's patent petition (1421)

7. The Humanist synthesis of theory and practice and the emerging notion of the intangible object of property

8. The movement of artisans and the dissemination of techniques and patent practices

9. References

 

1. Full title
The first general Venetian Statute regulating industrial brevets.

2. Abstract
The commentary discusses the importance of the Venetian corporate guild culture and patent-granting tradition for the emergence of proprietary attitudes towards technical knowledge, from which the concept of the intangible object of property would eventually evolve. It argues that in the realities of Renaissance Italy there was no strict separation between industrial brevets (protopatents) and book privileges and that there was much mutual influence between these two institutions. In general, the commentary explores the social and philosophical definition of property rights in intangible works that prefigured its legal definition and application.

 

3. Venetian industry and the emergence of proprietary attitudes towards craft knowledge
Modern legal systems distinguish between literary property and industrial interest. This separation between copyright paradigm and patent paradigm only came about in the second half of the eighteenth century.[1] Before that these two kinds of property were not so sharply demarcated. Indeed, the question whether a literary invention was different from making and inventing material things became one of the most crucial issues in the debates over mechanical and liberal arts and the nature of literary property in eighteenth-century England (uk_1747, uk_1762), France (f_1776, f_1777), Germany (d_1773), and nineteenth-century America (us_1834).[2] And although credit for the historic contribution of patents to the development of literary property was rapidly obscured by their subsequent differentiation from copyright, the actual cross-fertilization between these two institutions shaped the social and philosophical definition of intellectual property that prefigured its legal definition and application in copyright tradition. These developments have their roots in Renaissance Italy. As Edward Wyndham Hulme (1859-1954), librarian at the U.K. Patent Office, observed, the earliest patents are to be found in Italy and particularly in Venice, where they emerge around 1500, "close upon the heels of printers' copy rights."[3]

 

There is much evidence that these two institutions mutually influenced one another.[4] Certainly, authors and printers went more readily to Venice than to any other city, attracted not just by the excellence of its paper stock and typography but also by its widespread patent-granting tradition. Also, many of the contemporary book-related privileges were virtually indistinguishable from industrial patents, as was the case with the monopolies in printing technologies and type-design, granted, for example, to Aldo Manuzio and Ottaviano Petrucci, amongst others (see i_1498, i_1502). This subtle distinction between contemporary patents and privileges would be further eroded by the practice of revealing patented industrial secrets in published manuals which were protected by printing privileges, resulting in expanded industrial as well as printing monopoly coverage for works and knowledge that were technological in nature. Such practices reveal the underlying ambiguity between a literary invention and a mechanical invention that was characteristic of contemporary world. In fact, historically, the concept of the intangible object of property emerged from the very tangible world of artisanship and crafts.

 

It was the urban medieval Italian communes that provided the essential context in which more proprietary attitudes towards knowledge could develop.[5] Several developments were simultaneously contributing to this. Urban growth, the expansion of artisan crafts and trades, the emergence of a merchant class and the development of merchant and artisanal guilds - all these intrinsically related phenomena led to a more aggressive exploitation of natural resources and the rise of the culture of capitalistic mercantilism. These in turn enhanced the value of specialized knowledge and techniques and led to proprietary actions involving industry secrets. The rise of material culture and consumerism further increased the cultural value of objects and consequently enhanced the appreciation for artisan crafts and practice. Books, paintings, sculptures and objects of all kinds found an increasingly appreciative audience and market. With this more appreciative attitude towards artifacts, the specialized knowledge required for their production also acquired greater value.

 

One of the greatest centers of trade and production was Venice. Fernand Braudel's claims that Venice was the cradle of modern capitalism which "from the very first raised all the problems of the relations between Capital, Labour and the State relations" might be overstated.[6] Nevertheless, with its corporatist structures and thriving economy, attracting artisans and entrepreneurs of various sorts, Venice was the centre where these capitalist transformations were well pronounced and was thus well placed to offer a particular environment in which proprietary attitudes towards knowledge could develop.

 

These attitudes were manifest in two related phenomena: the emergence of widespread craft secrecy (to protect craft knowledge from theft) and the development of the privilege or patent as a limited monopoly on inventions and craft processes. The former emerged as an aspect of medieval urban economic policies associated with the collective or corporate ownership of the guilds.

4. Guilds and corporate ownership of knowledge
The institutions devoted to guarding trade secrets were the guilds. The guilds and the confraternities associated with them served social needs and carried out charitable, religious, and funerary functions; they also participated in political life in a variety of ways. But their main function was administrative and economic: the regulation of trade and craft production. The guilds regulated the day-to-day activity of artisans. They trained apprentices, set the standards of the working techniques, and maintained trade secrets inherited from the past. The guilds developed and used various rules to protect the knowledge of their trades. Most technical and craft knowledge was transmitted orally through apprenticeship and under secrecy oaths. The guild regulations sought to preserve traditional techniques and trade secrets by restricting the movement of workers.

 

By the mid thirteenth century, there was already a fairly organized guild structure in Venice and contemporary craftsmen were willing to introduce, develop and practice their skills under protection and control of these guilds.[7] With the lucrative sales and demand for Venetian products, however, many Venetian artisans were tempted to leave the city and establish their workshops elsewhere. To protect Venetian specialties, the city and the guilds started introducing rigid regulations on the various trades.

 

This can be illustrated with the example of the guild of Vetrai in Venice, famous for their glass making techniques and for the secrecy with which they jealously guarded their techniques. Glassmaking craft knowledge was perceived as communal property to be used for the benefit of the Venetian commune and the guild. By means of profitable sales Venetian glass products spread across Europe, but export of the craft itself, that is, of information concerning the craft processes and the practice of the craft was strictly forbidden. As early as 1271, guild capitularies warned that "anyone of the aforementioned art who will have gone out beyond Venice with the aim of practicing the said art" would pay a fine. In 1281, the regulation was repeated, with higher fines. In 1295, the Great Council deplored the loss of glassmaking secrets to the competition abroad and lamented that "the furnaces had multiplied at Treviso, at Vicenza, at Padua, at Mantua, at Ferrara, at Ancona and Bologna." The Council ruled that glassworkers who left Venice to work outside would be banished from the guild and forbidden to work in Venice again.[8] Another example is the silk industry which sought to maintain control over traditional manufacturing procedures by similar methods.[9]

 

These efforts to enforce an effective control over labour force were elusive. The possibility of the flight of artisans with the consequent diffusion of their techniques was a problem that had haunted the Venetian government for centuries, despite increasingly severe penalties for artisans caught jeopardizing the Venetian monopoly, including even the death penalty.[10] Such extreme remedies were not unique to Venice. In Genoa, the city most injured by artisan emigration, the threats of punishment were becoming harsher and harsher. In 1529, the authorities offered a reward up to 200 ducats to anyone who killed a fugitive artisan. Lucca had been offering a bounty for the murder of emigrant workers since 1314; and Florence punished the transgressors by beheading.[11]

 

These draconian measures to prevent workers' mobility show that contemporary governments placed a great value on specialized craft knowledge. The question is whether they were concerned with keeping the craftsmen for the sake of their labour and skills, or were they attempting to protect and monopolize expertise and knowledge as a valuable commodity and a common property of the guilds? There is no doubt, however, that their efforts to impose monopoly on trade secrets of the guilds increased awareness of the commercial value of such knowledge and heightened the level of competition and mercantilism among the Venetian artisans themselves. A fifteenth-century glassmaker, Giorgio Ballarin, for example, stole the recipes for "various colours mixed in glass" from the famous Venetian inventor of crystal, Angelo Barovier. Angelo guarded the recipes carefully and entrusted them to his exceptionally pious daughter, Marietta. One day Marietta inadvertently left the recipes out, and Giorgio quickly transcribed them. He then gave the recipes to Angelo's rival, his future father-in-law, and subsequently became one of the leading glassmakers of Murano.[12]

 

As Pamela Long has argued, the culture of artisanal guilds produced a unique environment to develop proprietary attitudes towards knowledge and some basic awareness that craft processes and knowledge constituted intangible property which could be protected and owned. "In promoting attitudes of ownership toward intangible property - craft knowledge and processes as distinct from material products - the guilds developed the concept of ‘intellectual property' without ever calling it that."[13] Such claims should be heavily qualified, however, for these possessive and mercantilist attitudes towards trade secrets cannot be equated with the principles of intellectual property that informs our modern copyright and patent law. Moreover, these attitudes were closely tied to the notion of corporate ownership and were developed in the context of protecting the communal and guild interests, quite apart from the notion of individual authorship. Craft knowledge was not generally linked to particular owners or to innovation, rather it was seen as a corporate resource, part of the governance structure of the guild's communal activities, which were controlled by the government. In a similar way, the contemporary process of writing and producing books was perceived as a collective and collaborative enterprise. (See i_1486) The development which helped to separate the notion of individual authorship from communal corporate ownership was the emergence of the industrial patent system.


5. The emergence of the patent system
No matter how strict the punitive guild regulations were to restrict the emigration of workers and dissemination of trade secrets outside Venice, their effectiveness was mitigated by the simultaneous development of the legal incentives (monopolies and patents) designed to lure skilled professionals or the entire industry into other cities and states. In fact, Venice itself was one of the first states to develop and benefit from such a system.

 

Contemporary states were acutely aware of the economic and social advantages of attracting skilled workers and introducing new industries into their jurisdictions. Princes, city councils and popes in Rome, all sought to attract new technologies and trades by guaranteeing legal, fiscal, and social benefits to any artisan or merchant willing to move to the new city. These benefits ranged from the usual cancellation of the debt to granting immunity from prosecution for criminal offenses, or even a promise of an absolution from specific sins in case of the popes who freely applied their spiritual powers to foster temporal advantages. This policy of state protectionism is also evidenced in case of the Venetian Republic and dates back to the thirteenth century. As early as 1272, the Venetian government encouraged "any one who comes to Venice to exercise the trade of a wool weaver shall receive a house to live in and to exercise said trade, at Murano, Torcello or in the country, free from cost for ten years."[14]

 

Initially, these public appeals to prospective immigrants were aimed at attracting not just individual workers but entire crafts from abroad. But from the second decade of the fifteenth century the Venetian government took the initiative to draw up formal contracts with single entrepreneurs who undertook to lay the foundations of the new industry or bring other benefits to the city. In 1453, for example, during the long and costly war against Milan, Venice issued a law that guaranteed a five-percent premium to those who contrived new system for increasing the revenues without rising taxation and that encouraged inventors by guaranteeing them a reward from the state for innovations with public utility, especially in the military field. Patent and patent law emerged from this tradition.

 

In the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a substantial number of immigrants from Germany, Netherlands and other Italian states were able to obtain monopolies as importers of a new art or invention.[15] One of the earliest and the most famous patents is the printing monopoly granted to Johannes of Speyer in 1469 (see i_1469). While Johannes's patent does not appear as something new or unusual in the economic life and legal tradition of fifteenth-century Venice, the extraordinary success of printing in the subsequent years did set off some legal developments. It demonstrated that bringing technical innovations into the city could secure high profits. In no time, printing became one of the most important economic activities of Venice, alongside the silk manufacturing and glass making industries. However, unlike these industries, printing trade was not organized into guilds until 1549. Neither was there any general regulation which would deal with the printing industry as a whole.[16] It might be that this rapid expansion and economic success of the printing industry, combined with the absence of any regulatory procedures, encouraged the Venetian authorities to introduce a more general law which would further stimulate an influx of new technologies as well as standardize licensing procedures.

 

On 19 March 1474, the Venetian Senate passed the first general patent law to regulate industrial brevets. This statute has often been celebrated as the first comprehensive patent law which introduced the basic principles of intellectual property and demonstrated "that every inventor enjoyed some ... substantive right, arising from the very fact of his invention and not merely a privilege granted on the basis of some state policy."[17] Despite this exalted interpretation, the Statute of 1474 functioned primarily as a codification of prior customs. It did not introduce new principles.[18] Neither did it mark the beginnings of the modern patent system. Subsequent individual patent laws were left unaffected by this legislation. Neither do we find any specific appeals to this statute by individual petitioners. It should best understood as declaratory instrument codifying existing general principles and customs of granting patent rights for innovations in Venice, not unlike the first Statute of Mines (1488) or the analogous 1517 Statute on the Press (see i_1517).[19]

 

Therefore, the significance of this regulation lies in its broad and general character. For the first time an attempt had been made to apply general rules to the granting of patents rather than conferring occasional individual favours (gratiae) in response to individual petitions. This might suggest that Venice was the first to provide a statutory basis for the patent system. The regulation introduced the idea that grants ought to be based not on the relationship between the petitioner and the authorities but rather on the applicant's ability to fulfill certain criteria. Among these criteria were that the protection was always to be extended to the inventor of the device or the originator of the practice for which a patent was requested and for something which was new, operable, and useful for the community. The statute provided that patents might be granted for "any new and ingenious device, not previously made", provided it was useful. This novelty (originality) and social utility requirement still remains a basic principle of patent law. Though previous privileges had often awarded monopolies for innovations, there was no necessary requirement of absolute innovation for the award of patents prior to this decree.[20] In England, such criteria were first introduced in 1624, with the Statute of Monopolies, which provided that patents were to be granted for "new manufactures" and to "the true and first inventor." (See uk_1624) In addition, the Venetian government introduced the duty of any inventor to register his discovery at a state office (Provveditori di Comun). Unlike the guilds' monopolies, which were perpetual, it limited the terms of protection for ten years.

 

Equally significant is the fact that this legislation focuses on protecting and rewarding individual inventors, in contrast to monopolies reserved to organized groups (guilds), which were concerned with the idea of better control rather than that of a reward or compensation.[21] The act starts by declaring that the greatness of Venice attracted numerous individuals who sought to test their skills and inventions in the city. In order to freely exercise their talents these men needed a fundamental incentive: the certainty that no one could copy and use their inventions with impunity. Therefore, it should be legislated that the devices invented by such men who "exert their minds, invent and make things" could not be copied and made by others. These guarantees equally extended to innovations or innovators coming from abroad, for it was stipulated that patents might be granted to "men of diverse origins" and that to obtain a patent it was only required that a tool or a technique had not been previously employed within Venetian jurisdiction.[22]

 

Although its precise effects cannot be estimated, the statute of 1474 might have played an important role in encouraging further inventors to patent and exercise their inventions in Venice. From the late fifteenth and throughout the sixteenth century the Venetian government received well over a thousand petitions to patent a new invention or device.[23] These petitions cover every imaginable subject, from windmills to poisons, or culinary experiments such as special kinds of lasagna in an Apulian style and new types of pies filled with meat and fish.[24] Certainly this legislation provided a formal legal mechanism with which individual entrepreneurs could challenge corporative monopolies, once their own emancipated individualism conflicted with secrecy and exclusionary practices of the guilds.


6. Filippo Brunelleschi's patent petition (1421)
Economic historians with a Marxist background have portrayed the guilds as essentially conservative institutions devoted only to maintaining the working techniques and trade secrets inherited from the past and so instinctively inclined to reject any kind of innovation.[25] The main evidence demonstrating this conservatism of the guilds is found in their strict regulations, which were meant to restrict the movement of workers and compel artisans to preserve traditional techniques and trade secrets.[26] More entrepreneurial individuals, however, would sometimes break out of this system. The famous case is that of the Florentine architect and engineer Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) who refused to work within guild restrictions and contested the guild's ownership of his inventions by applying himself for patents and claiming his own ingenuity. His tenuous relationship with the Opera del Duomo, the committee that supervised the construction of the Florentine cathedral and his conflicts with his rivals and other guildsmen are well known.[27] In the course of his notorious dispute with the woodworkers' and stone-masons' guild, he was even jailed for eleven days.

 

Brunelleschi is famous for his design and construction of the massive octagonal dome of the Florentine cathedral, which dominates the city to this day.[28] He built the dome with improved scaffolds and without rigid, wooden centering or formwork. He also designed his own hoisting crane and other machines which secured cheaper, more secure and faster delivery of the building materials. This method of building without centering had never been applied on such a gigantic scale; probably it was altogether unknown to the Florentine masters. They refused to follow Brunelleschi's innovative methods and held on to the more traditional approach of his rival, Lorenzo Ghiberti (c.1381-1455) instead.

 

In the course of a long and fierce fight against the woodworkers' and stone-masons' guild and Ghiberti, Brunelleschi was able to reassert his individual authority as an architect and constructor against the corporate interests of the guild. When he was put in charge of the construction of the cathedral, he refused to join the woodworkers' and stone-masons' guild.[29] He contested the guild's claims to the ownership of his own inventions and emphasized that he alone was the author ('autore') and inventor of his construction methods and devices and refused to disclose them to other guildsmen.[30] This corporate/individual bargaining over innovation set the scene for disputes over the nature and ownership of craft knowledge and created a context from which the notion of individual authorship would emerge.

 

Brunelleschi's refusal to work within guild restrictions illustrates how his own individualism conflicted with the corporatist interests and monopoly of the guilds. Even more significant is the fact that he was the first to use the patent system to claim and protect his knowledge ownership. At the time, two forms of protection were available: the traditional secrecy and exclusionary practices of the guilds and the patent system. These methods emerged as an aspect of medieval urban economic policies associated with corporate ownership and protection of crafts techniques for the benefit of the whole commune. From the middle of the fifteenth century, however, individual inventors also began to be concerned with unauthorized dissemination of their knowledge and work. The advancement of the technical arts, including the rise of printing and of the literary market in industrial manuals and humanist "scientific" literature would further exacerbate their concerns. Brunelleschi's own advice on secrecy as a remedy for the theft of ingenious inventions was recorded by his contemporary, Mariano Taccola, a Sienese engineer and author of various books on machines:

"Do not share your inventions with many, share them only with a few who understand and love the sciences. To disclose too much of one's inventions and achievements is one and the same thing as to give up the fruit of one's ingenuity. Many are ready when listening to the inventor, to belittle and deny his achievements, so that he will no longer be heard in honorable places, but after some months or a year they use the inventor's words, in speech or writing or design. They boldly call themselves the inventors of the thing that they first condemned and attribute the glory of another to themselves."[31]

Most technical and craft knowledge was transmitted orally through apprenticeship systems or handed down through families, from one generation to the next. With the advancement of crafts technologies and the expansion of trade investment, however, local craft knowledge transmitted orally often no longer seemed sufficient, and artisans, entrepreneurs and investors began to rely on printed industrial manuals in order to learn the trade. The printing of technical manuals may have only codified well-known practices, but it also posed the question of how to "safely" reveal previously concealed techniques to a wider audience and protect ideas and inventions from facile borrowings. Writing in secret codes such as Leonardo da Vinci's mirror writing may have provided one possible solution.[32] Another was the use of single patents for inventions. Indeed, with his sense of artistic pride and accomplishment and deep concern to protect his individual authority, it is no surprise that Brunelleschi was quick to try this form of protection.

 

As early as 1421, he applied to the Florentine commune for a privilege on a cargo boat that he had invented to solve the engineering problems with delivery of the materials to the building site. In his petition, Brunelleschi described himself as "a man of the most perspicacious intellect, both of industry, and of admirable invention." He claimed that the newly invented ship could haul loads more cheaply and that it would provide further benefits to merchants and others. But he refused "to make such a machine available to the public in order that the fruit of his genius and skill may not be reaped by another without his will and consent." If he could enjoy "some prerogative" concerning his invention, he "would open up what he is hiding and would disclose it to all." A patent would allow the matter to be brought to light for the benefit of Brunelleschi and everyone else.[33] Following his request, the state of Florence granted him a three-year exclusive right to build and use on Florentine waters a new ship or other device for transporting goods on waters; any "new or newly shaped machine would be burned."

 

This broad range of rights conferred on Brunelleschi outside and despite the monopolistic structures of the guilds is emblematic of the growing recognition that the medieval monopoly system associated with maintaining political and economic control over the crafts, no longer sufficed to promote the economy of the state. In the new realities of the advancement of industrial technologies and a more aggressive commercial exploitation of inventions, it was the emerging patent system that would foster new technology and new approaches to creativity, ingenuity and individual authorship. Characteristically, Brunelleschi himself suggested that such a patent would foster innovation and provide incentive for his further work. He would be motivated "to higher pursuits, and would ascend to more subtle investigations."

 

7. The Humanist synthesis of theory and practice and the emerging notion of the intangible object of property
According to Frank Prager, Brunelleschi "was an outstanding exponent of the rising era of individualism", who fought against the feudal oligarchy of the guilds. [34] There is no doubt that Brunelleschi was exceptional in many ways. Born to a well-placed family of lawyers, he enjoyed a better education and higher social status than most artisans. Yet Brunelleschi was also fundamentally a product of his own society and culture, a culture that increasingly valued knowledge, learning and inventive imagination. Such views of artistic creativity were derived in part from Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and the Neo-Platonic circles of Padua. Painters and other artists also contributed to this view. Especially important is Albrecht Dürer's presentation of himself in his Christ-like image not simply as an individual but as a divinely inspired artistic genius (i_1504 and d_1511b).[35]

 

The Renaissance positivism and cult of individual genius must not be overemphasized, however. Today, historians of the Renaissance are uncomfortable with Jacob Burckhardt's simple formula of the rise of individualism.[36] They have noted the continuing importance of notions of collective identity in Renaissance Florence, Venice and elsewhere. Yet Burckhardt still has a point about the 'rebirth' of arts and the rising status of individual artists. One of the long-lasting effects of Renaissance humanism was the elevation of certain arts, most importantly painting, sculpture, and architecture, to the status of liberal, ‘fine' arts. This, in turn, contributed to the rising status of creators and inventors such as Leonardo da Vinci and Brunelleschi among many other celebrated in Giorgio Vassari's famous Stories of the most excellent Italian architects, painters, and sculpturers.[37]

 

Another important development in Renaissance humanism was the proliferation of humanist writings on the mechanical arts, not only on visual arts such as architecture, painting, and sculpture, but on topics such as gunpowder artillery and on machines of various kinds. An increased appreciation for the technical arts and interest in their commercial exploitation encouraged the writing of technical manuals and recipe books explaining craft techniques and other "secrets", as artisans saw the benefits of learning new technologies and their wealthy and literate but inexperienced patrons wanted to learn how to maximize the profitability of their investments.

 

This proliferation of humanist writings on the mechanical arts, composed by university-educated men as well as workshop-trained artisans, transformed certain forms of crafts and constructive arts into written, discursive disciplines thus came to be treated as forms of "knowledge".[38] This emerging notion of a product of mind as distinct from material fabrication is evident in Leon Battista Alberti whose writings influenced learned culture of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Alberti dedicated one version of his treatise on painting De picture to none other than Filippo Brunelleschi.[39] Alberti praises Brunelleschi for his "feat of engineering" and emphasizes that the architect is not a carpenter, alluding to his notorious clashes with the woodworkers' guild, but one "who by sure and wonderful reason and method devises in his mind and realizes in construction whatever is needed..."[40] Alberti, like Brunelleschi himself, clearly conceived of architecture as a discipline involving (intellectual) design emanating from the mind of an individual creator who can then disclose his invention and realize in (practical) engineering.

 

Another contemporary treatise which conveys a similar sense of distinction between intangible reason and material fabrication is the Trattato written in the 1470s by the Sienese Francesco di Giorgio. Francesco began his career as a workshop artisan and went on to become one of the most widely respected architects and military engineers. At the same time, he was an aspiring humanist who translated Vitruvius and composed a series of treatises on architecture, fortification, and military engineering.[41] In his Trattato, Francesco emphasizes that competence in conceptual realms must take precedence over practical skills. Architecture, he argues, "is only a subtle image, conceived in the mind that becomes manifest in the work." Such a work of the mind cannot easily be grasped because "ingenuity consists more in the mind and in the intellect of the creator than in writing or design."[42] Having recognized that the work of the mind is distinct from material goods, Francesco also emphasizes the need to safeguard it. He condemns those who usurp the works of others and attribute these works to themselves. He compares such people to crows dressed in feathers of the peacock. He admits that he had translated "most authentic books" and credits Vitruvius with authorship. Yet he also insists that he had revealed openly things that have long been kept secret and that his writings are filled with his own original contributions: "inventions of my own weak skill."[43]

 

Here, we can see some basic recognition of the distinction between intangible and tangible aspects of a work. We can also observe how the concept of the abstract intangible object of property began to evolve through this new way of thinking about knowledge. The fact that the author of this treatise came from the material world of contemporary crafts is significant, for he associated his intellectual effort with material application and therefore commercial value of his work. The practice of granting patents for mechanical inventions also encouraged these proprietary attitudes towards immaterial things. As the 1474 Statute recognizes in the preamble, the products of "very sharp minds" (accutissimi ingeni), particularly of those who were apt to "excogitate (that is to develop in thought) and discover various ingenious contrivances" (apti ad excogitar et trovar varij ingegniosi artificij) were worthy of protection in their own right.[44] This need for protection would become even clearer once the newly patented inventions began to be supplemented with technical manuals and advertised in print.

 

In 1588, a successful Jewish businessman, Maggino Gabrielli, who obtained several patents from Venice, Florence, the Pope, the King of Spain and "all Christian princes" for his revolutionary methods of increasing the silk harvest, took a momentous decision to reveal all the intimate details of his inventions in print. He published his Dialogues on the Useful Inventions for Silk in Rome with the papal privilege.[45] Gabrielli's decision to reveal all the secrets in his possession might seem puzzling, considering numerous patents with which he jealously guarded his inventions. Indeed, in his second dialogue he informs his readers that the content of the inventions had been kept secret until now because he was waiting to receive all the patents requested from the Italian princes. Once the last monopoly was obtained, in spring 1588, however, he applied for a printing privilege to publish a book which would advertise and praise the qualities of his inventions. It is clear that Gabrielli sought to capitalize on his inventions by lucrative sales of his book as well as returns from his industrial investments and that he used his Dialogues to disseminate and sell his patents in Italy and "beyond the Alps". His book was also to serve as an instruction manual for the prospective buyers of the new contrivances. In fact, he intended to create a wide network of agents who would advertise and sell his products at the fairs, who "will publicly sell both these books of mine, so that everyone might use them in the silk craft, and all sorts of contrivances and instruments that are needed to carefully tend the little worms, and they will be given at such a low price and for such a good bargain that everyone will profit from buying them."

 

The practice of publishing technical manuals became a well-established method of demonstrating advantages and feasibility of patented inventions. Combined with printing, such practices expanded the reach of available technical knowledge, but also began to establish the notion of a public realm of knowledge against which the book privilege system would be defined.[46] The question of how to disclose information without jeopardizing inventors' interests shifted attention towards the possibilities of inhibited diffusion underlying the system of printing privileges. This can be illustrated by reference to the example of Venetian physicians who took advantage of Venice's flourishing book market and privilege system to capitalize on the secrets of their trade by publishing medical advice for the "common man".

 

The search for new recipes and cures was always encouraged in Venice, the city being under the constant threat of plague. As early as 1297, the Great Council passed a law encouraging the manufacture and sale of new medicines. The law stipulated that "if any physician wished to make any of his own medicine in secret, he may be empowered to make it, if only, of course, of the best materials, and all may hold in confidence, and all guild members may swear not to interject themselves into the above mentioned [matter]."[47] In effect, the Council encouraged the individual physicians to monopolize their own inventions by allowing them to protect their secrets. With the emergence of book market, these proprietary attitudes towards the arcana of medical science could also be exercised through book privilege system. Indeed, the early years of printing saw a flood of popular medical tracts streaming from the presses. These works, ranging from theoretical treatises to recipes books and surgery manuals, written in vernacular and intended for a more general non-specialist audience were often submitted by the physicians themselves who put forward all sorts of extravagant claims to obtain the privilege. In 1498, for example, Democrito Terracina claimed that the Arabic and Armenian medicinal tracts which he intended to publish were to foster scientific knowledge and public health. To print these books would be "of utility to the Christian republic, and the exaltation of the faith, and the augmentation of the natural sciences, as well as medicine, in the conservation of the health of the soul and bodies of many and all faithful Christians."[48]

 

The practice of publishing popular "scientific" literature by practitioners of specialized trades or university-based disciplines signaled the emergence of a new class of professional writers making a career out of the new printing technology. These minor literary producers operated within an emphatically mercantilist value system which encouraged the ideology of possessive authorship.[49] The activities of these authors - inventors show how this ideology coming from the material world of contemporary crafts would be extended into the realm of literary production thus influence the commodification of writing. At the same time, they lived in a culture which sought to "liberate" artistic ingenuity from physical fabrication. As Terry Eagleton has observed, the representation of the artist as a transcendent genius was born "just when the artist is becoming debased to a petty commodity producer" and this mystification can be understood in part as "spiritual compensation for this degradation."[50] As in eighteenth-century England, where the paradigm of literary property was formulated on the model of landownership and where the occupation of the contemporary author was described as "planting his land", the concept of possessive authorship had been made in fifteenth-century Italy first with regard to material inventions before it was applied to writing (in the sixteenth century). The emerging patent system became a well-established mechanism for reasserting this.

8. The movement of artisans and the dissemination of techniques and patent practices
By means of lucrative sales, Venetian glass, silk and other trades spread across Europe, but the export of the craft itself was strictly forbidden. The Republic sought to retain exclusive control of industrial techniques and their dissemination, by prohibiting or at least holding its movement abroad. The state aimed to solve the problem by punishing mercilessly those who either returned home or were captured at the time of leaving Venice.[51] Nevertheless, despite these efforts, a sort of free movement of workers had in fact been formed from the mid-fifteenth century onward. Marcantonio Varotta, a Venetian painter of banners who left Venice in 1564 on account of his religious problems and traveled across Europe as far as Moravia, described this movement to the Inquisition in Venice as a continuous traffic of itinerant men: "furlani" and "esuli" traveling the roads between Venice, Lyon, Geneva, and Kraków, exchanging tips on where to find prosperity, patrons and jobs.[52] When a group of twenty Anabaptist artisans were caught on their way to Moravia in 1562, the podestà (chief magistrate) of Capodistria, Girolamo Lando, described their flight as a well-organized international conspiracy to lure the Venetian artisans into Anabaptist communities in northern Europe and steal their crafts.[53]

 

It was largely the emigration of these Italian artisans and entrepreneurs that can be held responsible for the spread of Italian crafts in Europe; they possessed the technical and organizational skills that were necessary to implant these crafts in other countries. Until the end of the eighteenth century these specialists played a major role in the expansion of industries not only in Europe but also in the New World (as attested, for example, by the role of Piedmontese families in setting up sericulture and cocoon reeling in Georgia, between the 1730s and 1760s.[54]

 

The migration of Italian artisans became an important mechanism not only for spreading craft knowledge but also for transmitting some wider proprietary attitudes towards that knowledge. Coming out of the Venetian guild system protected by patent granting, the Venetian artisans took with them not only their innovative technologies and craft knowledge but also their sense of the commercial value of this knowledge, and the conviction that the innovator should receive certain benefits and protection for his work. It might be that this increased awareness of commercial value of their skills prompted them to seek fortune abroad and obtain monopolies for the new methods they brought with them. In this way, some aspects of the Venetian patent granting tradition were carried into the new contexts and jurisdictions. For example, the first patent awarded in France in 1551 to an emigrant from the Venetian jurisdiction, Theseo Mutio of Bologna, for the production of glass "according to the manner of Venice."[55] Early patents were issued to Venetian glassmakers also in Antwerp, Germany, and England.[56] Among the first patentees in England were Italian engineers and glass-blowers. In fact, it might be that the first patent granted in the Elizabethan England specifically for innovation was issued to an emigrant from the Venetian jurisdiction, the engineer Jacopo Aconcio who claimed to have discovered "new kinds of wheel machines, and of furnaces for dyers and brewers." His petition reads: "Nothing is more honest than that those who by searching have found out things useful to the public should have some fruit of their rights and labours, as meanwhile they abandon all other modes of gain, are much expense in experiment, and often sustain much loss, as has happened to me."[57] While initially governments sought to attract foreign merchants and laborers who brought new trades and technologies, the aggressive expansion of Italian trades and the competition which the local entrepreneurs faced from the Italian merchants eventually led to increased state protectionism. In 1476, for example, the English government passed a statute to regulate and restrict the manner in which Italian merchants were able to carry on their trade.

 

Nevertheless, Venice's reputation as a place where inventions were encouraged and patents were granted was well known in England. Sir Thomas Smyth (1513-1577), an English scholar and diplomat who studied at the University of Padua, wrote in 1549 in his Discourse on the Common Weal of this Realm of England (published in 1581) that: "In Venice, as I heard, and in many places beyond the sea, they reward and cherish every man that brings in any new art or mystery whereby the people may be set to work."[58] This reputation was still alive at the times of the comedy writer Ben Jonson (1572-1637). In his Volpone (1606), one of his characters, Sir Politick Would-be, a ridiculous Englishman proposes to sell his mad inventions to the State of Venice (Act IV, scene i).[59] And it was the experience of the Venetian Republic that was used as a precedent when a debate ensued in eighteenth-century England on the similarities between patent and copyright systems and the nature of literary property (see uk_1762a).


9. References

Berveglieri, Roberto, Inventori stranieri a Venezia, (1474-1788): Importazione di tecnologia e circolazione di tecnici artigiani inventori (Venezia: Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere e Arti, 1995)

Frumkin, Maximilian, "Early History of Patents for Invention", Transaction of the Newcomen Society 26 (1947-49): 47-56

_____., "The origins of patents", Journal of the Patent Office Society 27, nr 3 (1945):143-49

Long, Pamela O. "Invention, authorship, ‘intellectual property' and the origin of patents: notes toward a conceptual history", Technology and Culture 32, nr 4 (1991): 846-884

_____. Openness, Secrecy, Authorship: Technical Arts and the Culture of Knowledge from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001)

Mandich, Giulio, "Le privative industriali veneziane (1450-1550)", Rivista del diritto commerciale e del diritto generale delle obbligazioni 34 (September-October 1936): 411-47

_____., "Primi riconoscimenti veneziani di un diritto di privative agli inventori", Rivista di diritto industriale 7 (1958): 101-55

_____., "Venetian patents (1450-1550)", Journal of the Patent Office Society 30, nr 3 (1948): 166-224

May, Christopher, "The Venetian Moment: New Technologies, Legal Innovation and the Institutional Origins of Intellectual Property", Prometheus 20, nr 2 (2002): 159-179

Monticolo, Giovanni and Enrico Besta (eds), I capitolari delle arti veneziane sottoposte alla Giustizia e poi alla Giustizia vecchia dalle origini al 1330 (Rome, 1905-1914)

Prager, Frank D., "A history of intellectual property from 1545 to 1787", Journal of the Patent Office Society 26/11 (1944): 711-60

_____. "Brunelleschi's Patent", Journal of the Patent Office Society 28 (February 1946): 109-35

Phillips, Jeremy, "The English patent as a reward for invention: the importation of an idea", Journal of Legal History 3, nr 1 (1982): 71-79


[1] The most significant dates in this development are 1883 and 1886, where internationals agreements respectively on patents and on copyright were reached in the "Great Conventions" of Paris and Berne (see uk_1886c), which sanction the split of the intellectual property rights into two distinct branches (cf. J. H. Reichmann, "Legal Hybrids between the Patent and Copyright Paradigm", Columbia Law Review 94, 1994).

[2] John Barrell, The Political theory of Painting from Reynolds to Hazlitt (New Haven: Yale UP, 1986).

[3] E. W. Hulme, "History of the Patent System under the Prerogative and at Common Law", LQR 12 (1896): 141-154, 16 (1900), 44-56. Cited by Giulio Mandich, "Venetian patents (1450-1550)", Journal of the Patent Office Society 30, nr 3 (1948): 166-224 (167-8).

[4] Mandich, 206.

[5] Pamela O. Long, "Invention, authorship, ‘intellectual property' and the origin of patents: notes toward a conceptual history", Technology and Culture 32, nr 4 (1991): 846-884.

[6] Fernand Braudel, Le temps du monde; The perspective of the world, trans. by Siân Reynolds (London: Collins, 1984), 128.

[7] Richard Mackenney, Tradesmen and Traders: The World of the Guilds in Venice and Europe, c. 1250-c. 1650 (London: Croom Helm, 1987).

[8] Giovanni Monticolo and Enrico Besta (eds), I capitolari delle arti veneziane sottoposte alla Giustizia e poi alla Giustizia vecchia dalle origini al 1330 (Rome, 1905-1914), 2: 66, ch. 8; 2: 79, ch. 51; 2:88-89, ch. 80.

[9] Luca Molà, The silk industry of Renaissance Venice (Baltimore; London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000).

[10] Maximilian Frumkin, "The origins of patents", Journal of the Patent Office Society 27, nr 3 (1945):143-49 (144).

[11] Molà, 43.

[12] This story comes from the fifteenth-century account written by a monk Gian Antonio, in honour of his master Paolo de Pergola, "the first author and inventor of various colours mixed in glass" who taught his secrets to Angelo Barovier, one of his pupils. A transcription of this account appears in Emanuele Antonio Cicogna, Delle inscrizioni veneziane, vol. 6, pt. 1 (1852). Reprint, (Bologna: Forni Editore, 1970), 466-71 (467). Cf. Pamela Long, Openness, Secrecy, Authorship: Technical Arts and the Culture of Knowledge from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), 91-2.

[13] Long, "Invention", 870.

[14] Mandich, 171, pointed to a number of documents between 1281-96.

[15] Roberto Berveglieri, Inventori stranieri a Venezia, (1474-1788): Importazione di tecnologia e circolazione di tecnici artigiani inventori (Venezia: Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere e Arti, 1995).

[16] The first general law regulating the printing trade was passed only in 1517. Before that, the trade was left virtually uncontrolled. (See i_1517)

[17] Mandich, 180. See also B. W. Bugbee, Genesis of American Patent and Copyright Law (Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1967), 23; Christopher May, "The Venetian Moment: New Technologies, Legal Innovation and the Institutional Origins of Intellectual Property", Prometheus 20, nr 2 (2002): 159-179 (162).

[18] For May, however, "it remains unclear whether the statute merely codified existing practice as represented by previous individual grants, or represented a legislative departure": "The Venetian Moment", 162. On the previous development of patents and related issues see Mandich, "Primi riconoscimenti veneziani di un diritto di privative agli inventori", Rivista di diritto industriale 7 (1958): 101-55 (116-55).

[19] According to Mandich, 176, "the legislative evolution in the field of copyrights, with its manifold similarities to and occasional distinctions from the parallel development of patents, finally culminates in an act of 1545."

[20] Long, "Invention", 870.

[21] Mandich, 171.

[22] However, the monopoly right was also subject to a compulsory license in favor of the State. The statute concluded with the provision that while no one within the Venetian domain could construct or use similar devices, "our Government will be free, at its total pleasure, to take for its own use and needs any of the said devices or instruments." For the text of this Statute and a further discussion see Giulio Mandich, "Le privative industriali veneziane (1450-1550)", Rivista del diritto commerciale e del diritto generale delle obbligazioni 34 (September-October 1936): 411-47 (518-19); Maximilian Frumkin, "Early History of Patents for Invention", Transaction of the Newcomen Society 26 (1947-49): 47-56; and more recently Molà, 187.

[23] Between 1474 and 1500, the Senate alone issued thirty-three monopolies; the number grew to 116 in the first half of the sixteenth century and to 461 in the next half century, totaling 577 for the entire period 1501-1600. For these data see, Berveglieri, 21-22. These data, however, remain inaccurate and the documentation regarding patents is now irretrievably lost since some registers of the Provveditori di Comun are missing.

[24] See, for example, a patent granted to Alvise di Valentin di Bossi on 2 May 1587, for "lasagne tirate a forza de mani sottilissime senza alcun edificio stagiarini et macaroni alla pugliese fatti di pasta," or patent granted to Alessandro Tornimben and Gerolamo Prevaglio for "pastizzi fatti de diverse sorti di paste lavorati con ogni sorte de carnami et uzzelami, sì di grasso come dim agro, con pesce et senza." Cf. Molà, 187and 375.

[25] On the critique of this traditional interpretation see Braudel and Cipolla who argued that, far from declining, the Italian economy and commerce were dynamic and thriving well into the seventeenth century. Fernard Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean world in the age of Philip II, 2 vols (London: Fontana, 1975), 1: 454-464; Carlo Maria Cipolla, "Il declino economico dell‘Italia", in Storia dell economia italiana: Saggi di storia economica, vol. 1 (Torino: Einaudi, 1959-), 605-623.

[26] The corporative structure of the Venetian industry mirrored the clear-cut division between the group of the entrepreneurs and that of the workers, between capital and labor. The group of the more entrepreneurs dominated the guilds and issued regulations for laborers and artisans.

[27] Many details of Brunelleschi's life are known from the biography of his younger contemporary Antonio di Tuccio Manetti, Life of Brunelleschi; and Giorgio Vassari, Le vite de più eccellenti architetti, pittori & scultori Italiani (Fiorenza, 1550), Seconda parte, 301-326, esp. 301-302 for his conflict with the guild and Ghiberti. Architecture and sculpture, along with masonry and carpentry were monopolized and regulated by the Guild of the Masters of Stone and Wood.

[28] St Peter in Rome, built more than hundred years later, followed the design of this dome. So did later churches and state buildings, including the Dome of the Capitol in Washington.

[29] Brunelleschi was a member of the silk guild (Arte della Seta), which also trained the goldsmiths. He matriculated as a goldsmith in 1404.

[30] Vasari, Vite, 302. He also claimed and obtained a complete refund for his material and labor costs, and an additional 100 florins for the invention as such, which was previously considered by a special commission of the Dome Authority. A similar bonus was given to him for the structural dome design itself.

[31] Frank D. Prager, "A Manuscript of Taccola, Quoting Brunelleschi, on Problems of Inventors and Builders", Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 112 (June 1968): 131-49.

[32] Martin Kemp, Leonardo da Vinci: The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man (Cambirdge, Mass., 1981).

[33] Brunelleschi's patent has been celebrated by many scholars, although, contrary to recent claims by Prager, Frumkin etc, it was by no means the first. For a translation and discussion of this document, see, Frank D. Prager, "Brunelleschi's Patent", Journal of the Patent Office Society 28 (February 1946): 109-35. For the original see Giovanni Gaye (ed.), Carteggio inedito d'artisti dei secoli XIV, XV, XVI, 3 vols (Florence: Giuseppe Molini, 1839), 1: 547-49.

[34] Prager, "Brunelleschi's Patent", 114.

[35] Joseph Leo Koerner, Moment of Self-Portraiture in German Renaissance Art (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 34-51.

[36] Jacob Burckhard, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990), 81-85.

[37] Giorgio Vassari, Le vite de più eccellenti architetti, pittori & scultori Italiani, da Cimabve insino a tempi nostri (Fiorenza, 1550).

[38] Long, Openness, Secrecy, Authorship, 104.

[39] Leon Battista Alberti, De pictura in Opere volgari, ed. by Cecil Grayson (Bari: Laterza, 1973), 3: 7-107. For Alberti see Franco Borsi, Leon Battista Alberti (Milano: Electa, 1975). For Alberti's relationship to Brunelleschi see, Christine Smith, Architecture in the Culture of Early Humanism: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Eloquence, 1400-1470 (Oxford: University Press, 1992), 19-39.

[40] For the Latin text and English translation see ‘On Painting' and ‘On Sculpture': The Latin texts of ‘De pictura' and ‘De statua', ed. and trans. by Cecil Grayson (London: Phaidon, 1972), 34-35.

[41] Long, Openness, Secrecy, Authorship, 134.

[42] "...è solo una sottile immaginazione concetta in nella mente la quale in nell'op[e]ra si manfiesta." "lo ingegno consiste più in nella mente e in nello inteletto dell'architettore che in iscrittura o disegno, e molte cose accade in fatto le quali l'architetto overo op[e]ratore mai pensò' [sic]. Francesco di Girgio, Trattati di architettura ingegneria e arte militare 1: 36. Autograph manuscript in British Library Codex 197 B21 [MS Harley 3281]. See Giustina Scaglia's annotated transcription in, Il "Vitruvio Magliabechiano" di Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Documenti inediti di cultura Toscana, 6 (Firenze: Edizioni Gonnelli, 1985) 43-50.

[43] Translation from Long, Openness, Secrecy, Authorship, 136.

[44] Here, I deliberately retained the original Latinised term ‘excogitare - excogitate' which translates as ‘to think out; to construct, frame, or develop in thought; to contrive, devise' and specifically implies mental labour. See, http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50079665 sub voce.

[45] Dialoghi di M. Magino Gabrielli Hebreo Venetiano sopra l'utili sue inventioni circa la seta, Con privilegio, In Roma, Per gli Heredi di Giouanni Gigliotti, 1558. Con licenza de' Superiori.

[46] Lucien Febvre, and Henri-Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book: The Impact of printing, 1450-1800 (London: New Left Books, 1976), 276.

[47] Mandich, "Primi riconoscimenti venetiani", 105-6. Translation from Long, "Invention", 876.

[48] "per utilità della republica christiana, et exaltation de la fede, et augmento de la scientia naturale, et ancor de la medicina, per conservation de la salute de le anime et corpi de molti et infiti fidel[i] christiani." Fulin, "Documenti", 134, nr 82. Translation from Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe, Copyright in the Renaissance: prints and the privilegio in sixteenth-century Venice and Rome (Boston, MA: Brill, 2004), 38.

[49] Joseph Loewenstein, The Author's Due: Printing and the Prehistory of Copyright (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).

[50] Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), 64-5. Cf. Mark Rose, Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright (London: Harvard University Press, 1993), 120.

[51] ASV, Archivio Podestà di Murano, b. 211; Consiglio dei Dieci, parti comuni, b. 1020, Inquisitori alle arti, b. 3. See, M. Miani, D. Resini, and F. Lamon, L'arte dei maestri vetrai di Murano (Venice: Matteo Editore, 1984), chapter 3: 108-118. On Venetian glassmakers in general, see A. Gasparetto, Il vetro di Murano dale dale origin ad oggi, (Venice: Neri Pozza Editore, 1956); Luigi Zecchin, Vetri e vetrai di Murano, 3 vols (Venezia: Arsenale Editrice, 1987-1990); idem., ‘Il segreto dei vetrai murnaesi del Quattrocento,' Rivista della Stazione Sperimentale del Vetro 11, nr 4 (1981): 167-72.

[52] ASV, Sant'Ufficio, b. 22, dossier ‘Marcantonio Varotta', 21 January 1567.

[53] "Non contenti d'atrovarsi loro in così enorme errore, operano con mezi indiretti che altri suditi di questo serenissimo Dominio vendeno le proprie sustantie et beni sui, abandonano le patrie loro et se conferiscono, inviati da questi, in quelle patrie; et di questo modo d'operar hanno corespondenti in molte città et lochi di questo serenissimo Dominio et altri alieni." ASV, Sant‘Uffizio, Processi, b. 19, 28 August 1562. On this episode see, Aldo Stella, Anabattismo e antitrinitarismo in Italia nel XVI secolo: Nuove ricerche storiche (Padova: Liviana Editrice, 1969), 154.

[54] Molà, 20.

[55] Theseo asked "the right permission and privilege that for the period of ten years he alone shall make or have made, in this kingdom, said glass, mirrors, tubes (canons) and other glassware according to the manner of Venice and have the same for sale, in this kingdom and elsewhere, wherever he wishes, uder penalty of seizure and punitive damages." Renouard, Traité des brevets d'invention (1844), 79. Cf. Mandich, ‘Venetian patents', p. 206. See also Frumkin, "The origins of patents", 144.

[56] Frumkin, "Early History of Patents", 50-54. Prager argues, in ‘most places the patent system was adopted almost exactly as developed in Venice... all of the basic rules developed in Venice were preserved in the subsequent systems.' Prager, F. D. "A history of intellectual property from 1545 to 1787", Journal of the Patent Office Society 26, 11 (1944): 711-60 (720). For the argument that the Dutch patent system developed on the Italian model see G. Doorman, Patents for inventions in the Netherlands during the 16th and 18th centuries (Amsterdam: Netherlands Patent Board, 1942), esp. 12-13.

[57] Jeremy Philipps makes a strong case that Aconcio had previously received a twenty-five year monopoly over devices for driving mills and draining marshes in Venice: ‘The English patent as a reward for invention: the importation of an idea', Journal of Legal History 3, nr 1 (1982), 71-79. On the frequent use of the ‘fruit' metaphor in petition of the Venetian artisans for patents see below n. 37. For the patent issued to "Jacomo Antonio da Trento" (Aconcio?) see, ASV, Senato Terra, reg. 33, c. 176, 15 Jan 1545. For Aconcio see Lynn White, jr, "Jacopo Aconcio as an Engineer", in Medieval Religion and Technology: Collected Essays (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1978), 149-73; and Delio Cantimori, "Jacopo Aconcio", Dizionario Biografio degli Italiani, vol. 1 (1960): 154-59.

[58] Cf. C. Macleod, Inventing the Industrial Revolution: The English Patent System, 1660-1800 (Cambridge: University Press, 1988), 11.

[59] Cf. Frumkin, "The Origins of Patents", 147.


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