Letters patent are still used in the United Kingdom, for example to confer peerages and to appoint judges, but under the present Patents Act are no longer used to grant patents for inventions. Prior to 1878, letters patent for inventions were engrossed on parchment and bore the Great Seal in wax. Subsequently paper was used and a wafer seal of the Patent Office replaced the Great Seal, but the wording of the letters patent document (not to be confused with the printed patent specification) was still very impressive. British patents were still being granted in 1981 in the form of a command from the Queen to her subjects to refrain from infringing the patent under pain of the royal displeasure. Unfortunately for the patentee with a taste for this sort of thing, under the Patents Act 1977 all that he gets is a very unimpressive certificate of grant from the Patent Office.
It is important to realize that the rights given by a patent do not include the right to practice the invention, but only to exclude others from doing so. The patentee's freedom to use his own invention may be limited by legislation or regulations having nothing to do with patents, or by the existence of other patents. ...Show more