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The First Compulsory Licensing of Patents and Copyright

David J Brennan (2017) 17 Legal History 1-45

39 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2017  

David J. Brennan

Swinburne Law School

Date Written: August 1, 2017


This article explains how compulsory licensing for intellectual property originated in British law in the 19th Century and the early part of the 20th Century for both patents and copyright. It is a history that is intricate, straddling the two regimes that comprise the main pillars of intellectual property, and requires consideration of contemporaneous developments occurring in the USA, North American colonies and Continental Europe. Through its exposition and analysis of the first five distinct compulsory licensing regimes, some concluding observations are made about the triggers for the first compulsory licences and the conditions that might help predict the desirability of compulsory licensing as a matter of modern public policy in any given setting.

Keywords: Copyright, Patents, Legal History, Intellectual Property, Compulsory Licensing

JEL Classification: K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Brennan, David J., The First Compulsory Licensing of Patents and Copyright (August 1, 2017). David J Brennan (2017) 17 Legal History 1-45 . Available at SSRN:

David Brennan (Contact Author)

Swinburne Law School ( email )

Cnr Wakefield and William Streets, Hawthorn Victor
3122 Victoria, Victoria 3122

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