IP as Metaphor

24 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2015 Last revised: 21 Mar 2016

See all articles by Brian L. Frye

Brian L. Frye

University of Kentucky - College of Law; Dogecoin DAO Legal Scholarship Page; Rug Radio DAO Grifting Division

Date Written: March 28, 2015


The constitutional justification for intellectual property is welfarist. In theory, it increases social welfare by solving market failures caused by free riding on innovation and transaction costs. But intellectual property rhetoric is metaphorical. Among other things, we compare intellectual property owners to farmers, infringers to pirates, and abusers to trolls. These metaphors obscure the welfarist justification for intellectual property by describing it as an expression of moral values. In order to understand intellectual property, we should stop using intellectual property metaphors.

Keywords: Intellectual property, IP, copyright, patent, trolls, metaphor

Suggested Citation

Frye, Brian L., IP as Metaphor (March 28, 2015). Chapman Law Review, Vol. 18, p. 735, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2586587 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2586587

Brian L. Frye (Contact Author)

University of Kentucky - College of Law ( email )

620 S. Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40506-0048
United States

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