First records are known from the Middle Ages.
Certificates for certain privileges "Litterae patentes" were awarded by the respective state rulers to inventors for a temporary exclusive use of inventions.
It soon proved to be essential to meet legal requirements:
- 1474 Patent Act of Venice
- 1624 law against monopoly abuse in England "Satute of mono-polies"
- 1790 patent law in the U.S.
- 1791 patent law in France
- 1877 opening of the "Imperial Patent Office in Germany"
With the division of Germany, there were two different patent rights. Since the reunification Germany has returned to a unitary patent law.