The Patent System in Pre-1989 Czechoslovakia

Chapter in: 'The Research Handbook on Intellectual Property Law & Policy in Central & Eastern Europe' (Mira T. Sundara Rajan, ed., Cambridge University Press) 2016, Forthcoming

UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper

40 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2013 Last revised: 21 Sep 2015

See all articles by Marketa Trimble

Marketa Trimble

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law

Date Written: July 22, 2013

Abstract

The chapter analyzes patent law in Czechoslovakia in the period from 1945 until the end of communist rule in 1989. In addition to reviewing the legislative development of patent law – the laws on the books – the chapter explains the law in action, which includes the application of the law in practice and the attitudes of Czechoslovak society toward inventive activities and patenting. The chapter shows that post-1945 Czechoslovak patent law drew on a highly developed pre-1940 Czechoslovak patent law and practice that was based on the Austrian patent law inherited by Czechoslovakia in 1918 when it split from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although Czechoslovak patent experts after 1948 were under severe pressure to adopt the Soviet patent law model, it was not until 1972 that the Soviet model was fully imposed upon the Czechoslovak patent system. Notwithstanding the political distortions forced upon the Czechoslovak patent system in the 1950s, 1970s and 1980s, the legacy of a high level of technical expertise developed under the Austro-Hungarian Empire survived in Czechoslovakia in large measure through the end of communist rule in 1989.

The chapter aims to achieve three goals. First, it aims to dispel misperceptions that have appeared in some recent scholarship that no developed patent system existed in Czechoslovakia prior to 1989. Second, the chapter contributes to the recent trend in the historiography of the Soviet bloc countries with a showing that patent law development was not uniform across the Soviet bloc, with an explanation that the development did not occur in complete isolation from the West, and with a presentation of the practical everyday effects of the patent system on the people of Czechoslovakia. Third, the chapter presents features of the Czechoslovak patent system that might be of interest to current critics of patent systems in various countries. Critics interested in changing from the property rule to the liability rule in patent law may find the Czechoslovak system interesting because the Czechoslovak system de facto deprived most inventors of injunctions. Critics who are concerned about rewards for unpatentable discoveries may find it useful to learn about the protection for such discoveries that appeared in Czechoslovak law until 1990. The lessons learned in Czechoslovakia in the pre-1989 period are not easily transferable to current practice, and particularly not to any democratic society with a functioning market economy; however, it is helpful to recall and understand the functioning of the features and the impact that they had on inventive activity within their past context to see if any of the lessons might be relevant today.

Note: This is a draft chapter that will appear in 'Intellectual Property in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States' (Mira T. Sundara Rajan, ed., LexisNexis, forthcoming).

Keywords: patent, innovation, invention, injunction, property rule, liability rule, author's certificate, improvement proposal, discovery, Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic, history, historiography, Soviet bloc, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, communist regime, law and society

Suggested Citation

Trimble, Marketa, The Patent System in Pre-1989 Czechoslovakia (July 22, 2013). Chapter in: 'The Research Handbook on Intellectual Property Law & Policy in Central & Eastern Europe' (Mira T. Sundara Rajan, ed., Cambridge University Press) 2016, Forthcoming ; UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2296931

Marketa Trimble (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law ( email )

4505 South Maryland Parkway
Box 451003
Las Vegas, NV 89154
United States

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