Registers of Artefacts of Creation—From the Late Medieval Period to the 19th Century

Chris Dent
2014 Laws  
This paper offers a new perspective on the "development" of the intellectual property regimes in the United Kingdom. The system put in place under the 1875 Trade Marks Act may be seen as the last of a sequence of earlier "technologies" that sought to administer the creative endeavours of (sections of) the English population. Prior to the trade mark registration (that included examination) there was the registration of designs that did not require examination but was necessary for the protection
more » ... for the protection of the right. In the eighteenth century, patent specifications were lodged with the Crown via a process that was much more involved than that was instituted for designs in the nineteenth century. Before that, books had to be enrolled with the Stationers' Company before they could be printed. And, in what may be seen as an earlier attempt at the centralised regulation of artefacts of expression, the Rolls of Arms (maintained by the King of Arms) was repository of coats of arms for English nobility. An exploration of these different technologies of regulation, in their socio-political context, will offer new insight into the antecedents, and limits, of the registration systems that are now common across the intellectual property world. Laws 2014, 3 242 Arms was the "visitation". The purposes of these visitations, at least from the early sixteenth century, were to "correct arms unlawfully borne and to enter those borne lawfully with the descent of those who bore them" ([36], p. 2). According to Dallaway, visitations were "regularly made every twenty-five or thirty years" ([22], pp. 165-66); and, importantly, they were carried out under the authority of a letter patent issued by the Crown ([36], p. 2). The information gathered as a result of these visitations meant that the heralds kept the "records of armorial bearings" ([39], p. 44) and "heraldry had become a science [for, inter alia] recording genealogical information" ([28], p. 134). It may be noted that this data was subject to searches by the heralds ([30], p. 132), but the authorities are less clear on whether the records were searched before new arms were granted. The final piece of heraldic regulation to be discussed here is the Court of Chivalry [40] . The earliest evidence of its rulings on disputes as "to armorial bearings" was from the second half of the fourteenth century-though there were only a handful of them ([41], p. 16; [42]). Though the Court did not have a significant role in the operation of the system of arms, it still represented a centralised institution, under the auspices of the Crown, that functioned, in part, to maintain the integrity of that system. Context While the details of these systems are now sketchy-given the half millennium that has passed since their heydays-there is enough to connect these forms of regulation with the broader societal institutions. While it may be strictly incorrect to suggest that the forms of governance of the time were feudal [43], the technologies of "power" were different then to what exists now and, further, were (less) different to what existed in the early modern period. England did have monarchs; however, the geography of the country meant that a degree of power remained in the hands of the local lords [44] . The most obvious aspect of the time, then, was the relative importance of the nobility. Parliament existed, but its role was more restricted than it is today. Admittedly, the power of the nobles had decreased, from the height of the feudal era, by the fourteenth century [45] , but that did not mean that they were without authority. So, it was the nobles who sought, and were granted, arms as a marker of their place in society ([28], p. 164). It was also in this period, the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, that the statutes relating to scandalum magnatum were passed. Under these Acts, it was a "criminal offence to slander the 'great men of the realm'" ([46], p. 75). These "great men" were the Dukes, Earls and Barons of England-men who competed with the King for control of the land and the ones entitled to bear arms. Importantly, however, the regulation of arms became centralized (as were the courts that adjudicated the slanders)-and centralisation, in that era, meant a shift in control from the nobility to the Crown, a process that continued into the early modern period. In terms of the operation of the market [47], it was the guilds that had significant power in the late medieval period. Further, it was the nobles, the land-owners, who had control over the production of primary produce ([48], p. 258; [49]). It has been suggested that there was the flow of money between the towns and countryside-between nobles and the bourgeoisie-that helped the maintenance, and development, of both areas of endeavor ([50], chap. 3; [51]). The Crown, on the other hand, had a more limited role; to a large extent, it was only about regulating coinage and the weights and measures used in the markets [52] . In this environment, it is not surprising that the forms of regulation of Laws 2014, 3
doi:10.3390/laws3020239 fatcat:vuqkwyix5ba2dg3ougiigigrlm