Letters patent


Letters patent

Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of an open letter issued by a monarch or government, granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or to some entity such as a corporation. The opposite of "letters patent" (Lat. "litterae patentes") is "letters close" (Lat. "litterae clausae"), which are personal in nature and sealed so that only the recipient can read their contents. Due to the Latin idiom involved, a single document is not a "letter patent" but still "letters patent."

Letters patent often start with a salutation such as "To all to whom these presents shall come Greeting" or "To all to whom these presents shall come or whom the same may in any way concern, GREETING:" or even just "To all and singular, greeting." However, a document starting with such a clause may merely be a deed poll. Letters patent can be used for the granting of city status or coats of arms, for the creation of corporations, or by a monarch to create an office. They are also common in printed diplomas and academic degrees from educational institutions.

A particular form of letters patent has evolved into the modern patent granting exclusive rights in an invention.

In the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth realms (where letters patent may be issued by the Governor-General), letters patent are issued under the Royal Prerogative and constitute a rare, if significant, form of legislation without the consent of Parliament. Letters patent may also be used to grant royal assent to acts of Parliament.

In the United States, the forgery of letters patent granted by the President of the United States is a crime subject to fine and/or imprisonment up to ten years (UnitedStatesCode|18|497). Without letters patent a person is unable to assume an appointed office. Such prompted the "Marbury v. Madison" suit where William Marbury and three others petitioned the United States Supreme Court to order James Madison to deliver their letters for appointments made under the previous administration.

ee also

*Royal Charter
*Lettre de cachet
*Letters close
*Letter of marque
*Patent
*Patent of Toleration
*Commissioning scroll
*Statute of Monopolies 1623, an attempt to rein in the abuse of letters patent in England

External links

* [http://www.foundingdocs.gov.au/item.asp?sdID=84 Letters Patent from Queen Victoria establishing the Governor-General of Australia]
**Now revoked by [http://www.statusquo.org/aru_html/html/GovGen.html Letters patent from Queen Elizabeth II dated 21 August 1984 as amended]
* [http://www.province-canada.anglican.org/canons/letters.shtml Letters Patent of Anglican Church of Canada]
* [http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Rapids/3330/constitution/1876lp.htm Letters patent of Governor and Commander in Chief of Newfoundland, 1876]
* [http://www.solon.org/Constitutions/Canada/English/LettersPatent.html Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General of Canada]
* [http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/cabinet/manual/letters_patent_constituting.html Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor-General of New Zealand]
* [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/RdLeaflet.asp?sLeafletID=76 Research Guide on Letters Patent]
* [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/SI/si1992/Uksi_19921730_en_2.htm Letters Patent granting Peerages and Royal Warrants]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Letters Patent — von Queen Victoria Letters Patent (lat.: litterae patentes)[1] (deutsch: offener Brief) bezeichnet im englischen Sprachraum ein Dokument, über welches ein Herrscher oder eine entsprechend autorisierte Institution …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • letters patent — see letter 2 Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. letters patent …   Law dictionary

  • letters patent — UK US noun [plural] ► LAW a formal document from a king, queen, or government that gives someone a particular right: »The coat of arms was granted by letters patent of Edward IV …   Financial and business terms

  • letters patent — [let′ərz pat′ nt] n. a document granting a patent: see PATENT …   English World dictionary

  • Letters patent — Letter Let ter, n. [OE. lettre, F. lettre, OF. letre, fr. L. littera, litera, a letter; pl., an epistle, a writing, literature, fr. linere, litum, to besmear, to spread or rub over; because one of the earliest modes of writing was by graving the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • letters patent — Open letters, as distinguished from letters close. An instrument proceeding from the government, and conveying a right, authority, or grant to an individual, as a patent for a tract of land, or for the exclusive right to make and sell a new… …   Black's law dictionary

  • Letters Patent — A legal instrument that grants the exclusive rights of an invention to an individual or a corporation. A letters patent is granted by the government to an individual, giving him or her the rights to authorship or to a patent for a new invention… …   Investment dictionary

  • Letters Patent — Document announcing an honor or power for an individual, granted by an official or nobleman. For example, arms might be granted by letters patent, or they might be granted lordship over a feudal estate. ♦ Sealed and open letters, often enrolled… …   Medieval glossary

  • letters patent — patent authorization, certificate of patent for an invention …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Letters Patent — These were royal letters, sent open with a seal and pendant attached. Their contents were not considered to be secret. Such letters authorised an action or instructed e.g. a sheriff to act. They date from 1201. [patent < Lat. pateo = open] …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases


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