During the last century, before the existence of any international convention in the field of industrial property, it was hard to find protection for industrial property rights in the various countries of the world because of the multiplicity of their laws. Patent applications had to be made roughly at the same time in all countries in order to avoid a publication in one country destroying the novelty of the invention in the other countries. These practical problems created a strong desire to overcome such difficulties.
During the second half of the last century the expansion of an additional worldwide oriented flow of technology as well as the increase of international trade made harmonization of industrial property laws. Government of the Empire of Austria-Hungary invited the other countries to take part in a worldwide exhibition of inventions held in 1873 at Vienna. Participation was hampered by the fact that a lot of foreign visitors were not willing to display their inventions at that exhibition in view of the insufficient legal protection offered to exhibited inventions. This led to two developments. A particular Austrian law secured momentary protection to all foreigners participating in the exhibition for their inventions, trademarks as well as industrial designs. The Congress of Vienna for Patent Reform was convened during the same year. It elaborated numerous principles on which an effective and useful patent system should be based and urged governments to bring about an international understanding upon patent protection as soon as possible.
As a follow-up to the Vienna Congress, an International Congress on Industrial Property was convened at Paris in 1878. A final draft proposing an international union for the protection of industrial property was prepared in France. Draft was sent by the French Government to a number of other countries with an invitation to attend the 1880 International Conference in Paris. That Conference adopted a draft convention which contained in essence the substantive provisions that today are still the major features of the Paris Convention.
A Diplomatic Conference was convened in Paris in 1883, which ended with final approval with signature of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. The Paris Convention was signed by 11 States. It came into effect on July 7, 1884. It was only during the first quarter of the 20th century and then mainly after World War II that the Paris Convention increased its membership more notably. The Paris Convention has been revised from time to time after its signature in 1883.