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Authority and ownership: the growth and wilting of medicine patenting in Georgian England

  • ALAN MACKINTOSH (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

Secret, owned, Georgian medicines were normally known as patent medicines, though few had a current patent. Up to 1830, just 117 medicines had been patented, whilst over 1,300 were listed for taxation as ‘patent medicines’. What were the benefits of patenting? Did medicine patenting affect consumer perception, and how was this used as a marketing tool? What were the boundaries of medical patenting? Patents for therapeutic preparations provided an apparent government guarantee on the source and composition of widely available products, while the patenting of medical devices seems to have been used to grant a temporary monopoly for the inventor's benefit.

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10 Christine MacLeod, personal communication, 26 November 2012.

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71 Kearsley, op. cit. (6), pp. 88–94.

72 Quoted in anon., Deadly Adulteration and Slow Poisoning (London: Sherwood, Gilbert and Piper, 1830), p. 135.

73 Kearsley, op. cit. (6), pp. 90–93.

74 Leeds Intelligencer, 10 March 1794, p. 4.

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76 Booth R.G., A Catalogue of the Revenue Stamps of the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands and Eire, 2 vols., Hexham: Tom Clutterbuck, 1982, vol. 2, p. A138.

77 Booth, op. cit. (76), p. A147.

Christine MacLeod's help was essential in starting this project, and Alan Humphries provided much relevant material at the Thackray Museum, Leeds. Leeds Central Library supplied the original editions of Woodcroft's registers of patents, and I am grateful to Jon Topham and Adrian Wilson for their many valuable comments.

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