It is important to appreciate that things have not always been as they are today

IP: Intellectual property; patents and/or copyrights on inventions and other creative works.

Looking to history, it is important to appreciate that things have not always been as they are today. IP rights used to be considered ‘grants of privilege’ that were explicitly recognized as exceptions to the rules against monopolies.

For much of the twentieth century patents were perceived as ‘monopolies’ in American jurisprudence. Anti-trust (anti-monopoly) legislation checked the power of patent holders in important ways. The framing of intellectual property as being ‘pro-free trade’ would not have been persuasive during earlier eras in which IP protection was seen, at best, as a necessary evil and at odds with free trade. It is only recently that the courts have ceased referring to patents as monopolies, and that anti-trust legislation has been relaxed…

When and why did intellectual property catapult to the top tier of the United States’ trade agenda? Had the two issues [international trade and IP] always been linked? Had IP protection always been so revered? How has the United States treated domestic intellectual property rights? Why did ‘it’ decide to globalize its own perspective?

– Excerpt from Private Power, Public Law: The Globalization of Intellectual Property Rights by Susan K. Sell.

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