Kritika: Essays on Intellectual Property
Edited by Peter Drahos, Gustavo Ghidini and Hanns Ullrich
Chapter 5: Intellectual property: The global spread of a legal concept
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 chapter presents three legal transfers that contributed to this development: first, from real property in land and movables to intellectual property in the late eighteenth 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 nineteenth and early twentieth 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.
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