Intellectual Property: The Global Spread of a Legal Concept
Peter Drahos/Gustavo Ghidini/Hanns Ullrich, Kritika - Essays on Intellectual Property, Vol. 1, 2015, 114-133
Goethe University, Faculty of Law, Research Paper No. 2/2013
25 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2013 Last revised: 10 Feb 2016
Date Written: February 15, 2013
Although intellectual property law is a distinctively Western, modern, and relatively young body of law, it has spread all over the world, now encompassing all but a very few outsiders such as Afghanistan, Somalia, and Vanuatu. This article presents three legal transfers that contributed to this development: first, from real property in land and movables to intellectual property in the late 18th century in Western Europe; second, from Western Europe, in particular from the United Kingdom and France to the rest of the world during the colonial era in the 19th and early 20th century; third, from the protection of new knowledge to the protection of traditional knowledge, held by indigenous communities in developing countries, on 5 August 1963. This story illuminates how legal transfers in a broad sense – including, but not limited to legal transplants – drive the evolution of law.
Keywords: intellectual property, copyright, patents, colonialism, globalization, legal transplant
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