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3 - US intellectual property rights in historical perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Susan K. Sell
Affiliation:
George Washington University, Washington DC
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Summary

I argue that the recent globalization of intellectual property rights originated in the United States. This chapter provides historical background of US IP protection, underscoring just how recent and dramatic the US commitment to stronger IP protection has been. It has effectively reversed about 75 years worth of policy skepticism over the merits of strict IP protection. The chapter discusses the formation of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in 1982 and its role in changing the domestic environment for patent holders. Several landmark court cases, Devex v. General Motors and Kodak v. Polaroid, highlight the extent of this change. Furthermore, governmental concerns over competitiveness in the 1980s led to changes in anti-trust policy, documented here, that redounded to the benefit of IP owners. Overall, the historical trends point to a dramatically improved domestic environment for IP owners, and a noteworthy redefinition of US interests in IP protection. These domestic changes paved the way, and provided much of the substance, for the ultimately successful US quest to globalize its new commitment to strict IP protection.

US intellectual property rights in historical perspective

The United States included intellectual property in the Constitution, Article I, Section 8, which authorized Congress to “promote the progress of Science and the useful Arts by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive right to their respective Writings and discoveries.” The emphasis on “useful Arts” underscores the commercial intent of the legislation and the utilitarian rationale behind it.

Type
Chapter
Information
Private Power, Public Law
The Globalization of Intellectual Property Rights
, pp. 60 - 74
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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