The concept of "fair basing" is widely acknowledged as a difficult area of patent law. This article maps the development of fair basing law to demonstrate how some of the difficulties have arisen. Part I of the article traces the development of the branches of patent law that were swept under the nomenclature of "fair basing" by British legislation in 1949. It looks at the early courts' approach to patent construction, examines the early origin of fair basing and what it was intended to achiever. Part II of the article considers the modern interpretation of fair basing, which provides a striking contrast to its historical context. Without any consistent judicial approach to construction the doctrine has developed inappropriately, giving rise to both over-strict and over-generous approaches
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