Patent Cases in the Court of Chancery, 1714–58

Sean Bottomley


The purpose of this article is two-fold. First, it discusses recent improvements in the cataloguing of Chancery bills and pleadings entered between 1714 and 1758, held in the C 11 series at the National Archives. This has made it much easier to locate cases by subject, and a methodology for doing this is described. Secondly, the article outlines the results of work carried out in C 11 on cases relating to patents for invention. Although there has been significant research into how other forms of intellectual property right were adjudicated in the Court of Chancery, notably copyright, patent law for this period remains obscure. The article shows that Chancery (along with the common law courts) retained the principal jurisdiction in patent law, rather than the Privy Council as was once thought.

Published in

The Journal of Legal History, vol. 35, n. 1, 2014, pp. 27–43