One Hundred Years of Solicitude: Intellectual Property Law, 1900-2000

Posted: 11 Jan 2001

See all articles by Robert P. Merges

Robert P. Merges

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Abstract

The elaboration of intellectual property law is closely intertwined with new technologies. This Review Essay draws on selected episodes from the past 100 years to illustrate the three typical stages by which the legal system accomodates new technologies: (1) disequilibrium; (2) adaptation and adjustment; and (3) legislative consolidation. The final section of the Article introduces a cautionary contemporary note. As a byproduct of the increasing value of intellectual property, there has recently been a rapid increase in legislative activity, and concomitant lobbying activity. This changing political economy is greatly compressing the traditional three-step process, and may bypass it entirely in some circumstances. As a counterbalance to overzealous legislation, courts may be forced to look to the constitutional foundations of intellectual property as a source of limiting principles.

JEL Classification: K11, K19

Suggested Citation

Merges, Robert P., One Hundred Years of Solicitude: Intellectual Property Law, 1900-2000. California Law Review, Vol. 88, P. 2187, 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=255988

Robert P. Merges (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
510-643-6199 (Phone)
510-643-6171 (Fax)

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