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The influence of the patent system on the economic performance of Western countries during the Industrial Revolution is an important but difficult question to address. With the United Kingdom and the United States, France was one of the first countries to adopt a modern patent legislation in 1791. The aim of this paper is to understand the paradox of such a system, which was based on a democratic and natural-right conception of invention but turned out to be restrictive. It analyses the legaldoi:10.1515/jbwg-2019-0003 fatcat:dbjibuqdtbcdrbnym3iw4qyj5i