Book Review: Justifying Intellectual Property by Robert P. Merges (Harvard 2011)
The IP Law Book Review, Forthcoming
11 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2012 Last revised: 24 Feb 2012
Date Written: February 23, 2012
Robert Merges’ scholarship has a continuing and significant influence on intellectual property law. His recent work, Justifying Intellectual Property, is a rich and thoughtful work that raises important questions. Merges considers the selected legal philosophers, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and John Rawls, with depth and clarity. Difficult concepts are handled with thoroughness and subtlety. A number of the propositions are undoubtedly provocative. By placing the primary emphasis on the creator, the book seeks to move the focus of the IP system to one that, at an operational level, inures to the benefit of a professional creative class. This work emphasizes that intellectual property is a property right that allows creators to control who may use the work, and — if used — to specify the terms.
In doing so, Merges neatly solves certain problems associated with the current IP system. Nevertheless, it is a rare case that one can attempt to move a system’s foundations without creating disruption. By advocating strong property rights in IP, Justifying Intellectual Property asserts a number of challenging propositions about a system that some currently regard as too powerful.
Keywords: Intellectual Property, IP Theory, Merges, Book Review
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