Origins of Copyright – Part 1 – Letters Patent

In 1499, what is believed to be the first English patent was awarded by King Henry VII to a Flemish man, John of Utynam, for a method of manufacture of stained glass. The patent awarded its holder a twenty year monopoly on the process within the borders of England. In the years following, the crown granted a great many of these patent monopolies. Historically, letters patent cannot be seen to be completely analogous to modern patent law, which grants a time-limited monopoly to the inventors of novel technologies. Letters patent were issued by the crown to favoured subjects – or those willing to pay for the privilege…