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The materiality of the invention

On one view the modern patent system arose as a means of commercialising the fruits of the industrial revolution. Particular schemes of disclosure and deposit mapped out a tacit relationship between the ontology of invention, representation and specification. When biological inventions were introduced these relationships between ontology and modes of capturing and recording were rethought. Most recently these issues have come to the fore as regards the patenting of diagnostic tests and business methods. Furthermore, continuing debates about patent exhaustion in biological materials underscore the fluid and never fully bounded problems of fitting new objects into the patent system. This research project focuses on charting the changing patterns of these relationships.


artificial arm patent diagram
Patent 48, 659 John Condell, Artificial Arm, Patented July 11, 1865. Rediscovery ID number: 16887 16887_2010_001.