Monday, October 1, 2012

Super-specialized Treatment of IP Law: Is it Good?

In my limited years of practice, the one thing that has struck me as odd is the treatment of Intellectual Property Law as a super-specialized branch, to the extent that IP practitioners are seldom seen as regular lawyers by "general practitioners".

What is funnier is that even within the practice of IP law, patent practitioners are seen as outsiders to the law by copyright and trademark lawyers. Terms such as "fancy litigation"/"luxury litigation" have been pejoratively used to refer to IP litigation (I have earlier written about the prevalent stereotype about IP litigators not being particularly comfortable with Court procedure).

In the process of practicing the law of "exclusive exclusionary rights", the exclusive practice of IP law may have become an island to the detriment of the subject and its practitioners.

This, I presume, is partly because of excessive emphasis on how "peculiar and different" IP law is from other property laws. The net result being, that sometimes it is forgotten that IP rights are property rights, albeit of a different nature, which may be better understood and leveraged if studied as part of the larger gamut of commercial and corporate laws. I think it would also help to teach the subject as part of corporate laws to law students, instead of treating it as a marginal elective.

This is also necessary in order to offer greater value to clients who may prefer engaging the services of a practitioner who understands the role played by IP in commercial transactions, instead of one whose expertise is limited to a small niche like patents or copyrights, and whose fundamentals in other aspects of commercial law/litigation are wobbly and unreliable.  

In order to dispel this stereotype and address it in a positive way, I intend to connect IP law to as many areas of "general commercial/corporate law" as possible. I sincerely hope that readers of this blog do not perceive this initiative as dilution of the blog's theme, and encourage this effort.


  1. I oppose this, on the grounds that property rights are the norms that surround scarce, rival goods.

    Intellectual property is an artificial, legalistic framework for legitimizing monopoly.

    Without laws to settle claim priority, two people cannot simultaneously use the same physical property.

    But they can certainly use the same idea.

    IP is purely artificial. Property is based in reality.

  2. Dear Anonymous..

    I beg to differ with what you say. IP is just as real as physical property- which is why it can be assigned, transmitted etc.

    To talk of IP as purely artificial is seeing it from a very romantic perspective of a free world- and trust me, if we all could use the same idea, most of us would stop thinking differently.

    I guess put urself in the shoes of an author or composer and imagine someone else discrediting your work and claiming it to be his- perhaps the need for protection will seem obvious