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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys the history of intellectual property law in the United States from its colonial origins to the present, and focuses on the three subfields that have a claim for seniority in terms of their longevity and importance: patent, copyright, and trademark. The development of these subfields is described as a process in which law has interacted with technology, economic factors, ideology, and politics. The chapter describes how at the end of the eighteenth-century American patent and copyright law emerged out of two sources: British laws and institutions and local colonial practices. The further development of American intellectual property law is analysed as comprising three stages: early patent, copyright, and trademark law; the consolidation of the modern framework of these fields through significant transformations beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century; and the various developments from the early twentieth century to the present.

Keywords: American history of intellectual property law, patent, copyright, trademarks, unfair competition, colonial patents and copyright, state patents and copyright, modern intellectual property rights

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