I – Introduction a – La nature des droits intellectuels

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Mcewan & Tufo Winter 2012


I – Introduction

A – La nature des droits intellectuels

Les livres, les sceaux et les inventions mécaniques ont été les premiers lieux d’une réflexion sur la propriété intellectuelle. Ces objets se confondent à la fois dans l’univers des biens tangibles et celui des intangibles. Le livre est un objet matériel. Le sceau est visible et perceptible. L’invention fonctionne. Pourtant, rapidement, on réalise que l’objet lui-même n’est qu’un véhicule, qu’il soit de papier ou qu’il s’agisse de Kindle, la richesse est ailleurs. Cette « richesse » n’est plus la matière elle-même, mais bien que ce qu’elle transporte. Apparaît ainsi une nouvelle forme de bien, un nouvel objet dont on veut contrôler l’exploitation, un bien immatériel cette-fois : le droit intellectuel..

Objectifs : présenter les principaux droits intellectuels, leurs objets et leurs fonctions.

      1. David Vaver, “The State of The Art” (2011) 32

What is IP?

  • Shorthand for many different rights at CML, equity, and statute. Protect products of the human mind for periods of time against use by others. Incentive to create.

Rights falling under IP:

  • Patents: for new, non-obvious, and useful inventions. Originally had 14 year monopolies for new manner of manufacture accorded by the Crown. Currently 20 years within granting territory, prohibition on exploitation.

  • Copyright: protection of books now extended to art, drama, music, and almost anything wirtten. Protection against copies, not creation. Long-lasting, 70 year norm.

  • Trademarks: Stop fraudulent imitations and prevent confusion.

Other UK rights: 50 years for performers, 25-35 years for types of plants, up to 15 years for computer chips, 15 years for databases. Also protection from unfair competition.
Common features:

  • Important in business. Tons of value.

  • Expanding subject matter. Movement to expand copyright is mimicked in other fields. Process patents extended to cover products, TMs cover sounds and colors, etc.

  • Increasing intensity of IP rights. i.e. reprints to partial reprints, to subtler forms of imitation. Now, CR = no translation w/o consent.; patents: purposive reading of statues

  • Internationalization of IP rights: adoption of treaties to protect rights, adoption of EU regulations/protocols.

New challenges:

  • Coping with digitization of protected works

  • Coping with incoherence: protect everything, but not a toddler's doodles? Automatic existence of rights v those which must be sough and granted? Necessity of protection – would we be going without innovation? Does the subject matter count or not (i.e. living tissue)?

  • Geopolitical dimensions of protection.

Intellectual component of intellectual property

  • What level of intellectual involvement should be required before protection is afforded?

Property component of intellectual property

  • Reaping what you sow doesn't strictly work in IP. Calling something that isn't actually a thing a thing is problematic too.

  • Reification of IP disadvantages: implies structural limits on legislation and interpretation; creates hesitance to trim back rights once they are granted (expropriation); interference with balancing against other rights (parody).

Concluding remarks
- Jdxs playing catch up with USA. Oil eating bacteria example.

- Need to treat expansion of IP as a means, not an end.

- Have to tolerate some copying. IP not absolute (therefore not property).

- Need better education.

      1. Paul Torremans, Intellectual Property Law

Defining and justifying IP rights
Property rights in something intanglibe which protect innovations and creations and reward innovators and creators
Property rights:

  • Exclusionary, only developed when cost of creating them < gains of exclusion


  • Nature of the property that is the subject of the right is ill suited to exclusion from competition.

  • Not perishable and use by others does not necessarily diminish the value of the right

  • Are properly part of the public domain and exclusion has to be artificially imposed.

Economic justification:

  • Mkt failure and free riders: cost of innovation is greater than cost of copying, so there is an incentive to wait for someone else to innovate and then copy. Knowledge of property right helps corect this.

  • Exclusivity and perfect competition: we are not looking to have perfect competition in all parts of the market. We want comp on innovation and consumption, but not necessarily production. Some production monopolies will stimuale competition on the innovation level.

Duty to use:

  • Compulsory use is the trade off for a monopoly. Provides an alternative to protection of innovation via secrecy. If you are given a monopoly, you need to use it. There is a tension between use of innovation and protection of innovation, and limited monopolies help to find a balance.


  • Copyright did not develop economically. It was more about the link between a creator and his creative work; in traditional DDA conceptions, there is a personal, moral right as well as a propety one. Tension here is between incentivizing creation and granting public access to information.

  • Play the same pro-competition role in stimulating creation as patents do in stimulating innovation.

Holders of rights:

  • Right must go to creator so that they are incentivized to create.

Special type of monopoly: limited in time, subject to competition with substitutes.

  • Historical analysis: correlation between industrialization and patent protection.

  • Reward theory: patents are society's reward to investors, but the reward is indirect b/c comp depends on demand.

  • Encouraging disclosure: another way to conceptualize patents.

Special position of copyright:

- Justification of personal aspects of right harder and harder to justify.

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