Why Modularity Does Not (and Should Not) Explain Intellectual Property

6 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2008


This five-page essay responds to Henry Smith's article, "Intellectual Property as Property: Delineating Entitlements in Information."

A virtual cottage industry of intellectual property (IP) models has sprung up in recent years. To the mix, Professor Smith adds modularity, in which there are intense interactions within, and few interactions between, components.

Before displacing more traditional explanations, however, the theory faces substantial obstacles. This essay articulates six such challenges: (1) explaining why modularity should be IP's defining feature, (2) accounting for the roles played by IP statutes and doctrine, (3) specifying clear boundaries for innately imprecise patents and copyrights, (4) justifying discerned differences between patent and copyright, (5) rationalizing the enhanced injunctive relief suggested by the model, and (6) proving the game is worth a new empirical candle.

Keywords: intellectual property, property, modularity, patents, copyrights

JEL Classification: K10, K11, O30, O31, O34

Suggested Citation

Carrier, Michael A., Why Modularity Does Not (and Should Not) Explain Intellectual Property. Yale Law Journal Pocket Part, Vol. 117, p. 95, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1089110

Michael A. Carrier (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law School ( email )

217 North Fifth Street
Camden, NJ 08102-1203
United States
856-225-6380 (Phone)
856-225-6516 (Fax)

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