Elgar Law, Technology and Society series
Edited by Jessica C. Lai and Antoinette Maget Dominicé
Introduction: the relationship between intellectual property and its physical embodiments
Intellectual property is typically considered to be exclusively incorporeal property since its products (particularly works and inventions) emanate from the mental labour of a creator. What is often forgotten is that even immaterial objects are usually (or arguably have to be) protected and used through a certain materiality, such as on canvas or as a pharmaceutical or trade-marked product. It is nevertheless the case that copyright protects “works” and not their materialisations, patent law protects ideas/inventions and not the physical good embodying them and trade marks protect marks used in trade and not the goods/services on which they are placed. However, despite being intangible in nature, intellectual property has hindered or controlled the access and use of the embodiments of intellectual products. We see this in many ways, such as the resale royalty right (for original art works), which does not attach to the intangible work, but to the physical embodiment.