A Doctrine of the Public Domain
Forthcoming in: Josef Drexl (ed), The Innovation Society and Intellectual Property, EIPIN Series, Edward Elgar Publishing
31 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 11, 2016
The article, which summarizes key findings of my German book ‘Die Gemeinfreiheit. Begriff, Funktion, Dogmatik’ (‘The Public Domain: Theory, Function, Doctrine’), asks whether there are any provisions or principles under German and EU law that protect the public domain from interference by the legislature, courts and private parties. In order to answer this question, it is necessary to step out of the intellectual property (IP) system and to analyze this body of law from the outside, and – even more important – to develop a positive legal conception of the public domain as such. By giving the public domain a proper doctrinal place in the legal system, the structural asymmetry between heavily theorized and protected IP rights on the one hand and a neglected public domain on the other is countered. The overarching normative purpose is to develop a framework for a balanced IP system, which can only be achieved if the public domain forms an integral part of the overall regulation of information.
Keywords: public domain, intellectual property, copyright, trademark, patent, design, invalidity proceeding, license contract, German law, European law
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