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Jurisdiction and Remedies for Intellectual Property Infringement by National and State Governments

Thomas G. Field Jr.

University of New Hampshire School of Law (formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center)

September 1, 2008

Landslide, May/June 2009

This paper considers the availability of relief for sovereign use of intellectual property (IP), primarily in federal courts.

The first, and much shorter, part of the paper considers statutes designed to redress IP infringement by the U.S. government. Despite occasional complexities, their application is usually straight forward.

The second part of the paper addresses infringement by state governments and explains how the Eleventh Amendment limits relief in federal courts. It also explains how exclusive federal jurisdiction may limit the capacity to seek relief in state judicial or administrative proceedings.

Some may find it ironic that injunctive relief, rarely available against the federal government, is generally available to halt state infringement. Conversely, compensation usually available from the federal government, is difficult to impossible to obtain against state governments is federal courts.

Another contrast is that federal contractors are apt to share governmental immunity whereas state contractors do not.

The ultimate conclusion is that IP owners seem able to obtain all the relief for governmental uses that they need, if not all that they desire, in federal courts.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 10

Keywords: intellectual property, federal sovereign immunity, exclusive federal jurisdiction, state sovereign immunity, eleventh amendment, ex parte young

JEL Classification: K40

Accepted Paper Series

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Date posted: September 3, 2008 ; Last revised: October 22, 2010

Suggested Citation

Field, Thomas G., Jurisdiction and Remedies for Intellectual Property Infringement by National and State Governments (September 1, 2008). Landslide, May/June 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1261979

Contact Information

Thomas G. Field Jr. (Contact Author)
University of New Hampshire School of Law ( email )
Two White Street
Concord, NH 03301
United States
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