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date: 31 May 2020

(p. v) Preface

(p. v) Preface

In our current age, expressive, informational, and technological subject matter are often described as having increasing importance. The growing emphasis placed by states and businesses on the recognition and protection of intellectual property (IP) simultaneously reflects and supports this view. IP regimes–copyright, trademark, patent, and related rights—are the primary means by which jurisdictions seek to promote and regulate human expression, information, and technology. By enabling those responsible for the creation of intellectual products to exclude others from their benefits, these laws aim to encourage innovation and creativity, and thereby to support solutions to global environmental and health problems, in addition to promoting freedom of expression, culture, and democracy. They also seek to stimulate economic growth and competition—accounting for their centrality to US foreign trade strategies and European Union (EU) internal market trade and development policies—and they are of enormous importance to business. According to a 2014 report commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office, for example, in 2011 UK business invested £126.8 billion in knowledge assets, compared with £88 billion in tangible assets. Of this investment, approximately 50 percent (£63.5 billion) was protected by IP rights, including an estimated 10 percent in assets protected by patents, 47 percent in assets protected by copyright, 3 percent in assets protected by registered design rights, 22 percent in assets protected by trade marks, and 18 percent in assets protected by unregistered design rights.1

In recent decades, these factors have contributed to a substantial and growing interest in IP across all spheres of industry and social policy, including an interest in its legal principles, its social and normative foundations, and its place and operation in the political economy. It is in recognition of and response to this interest that we agreed to edit the current Handbook. Consistent with the focus of the other volumes in the Oxford Handbook series, our aim in doing so has been to provide a detailed entrée to the field suitable for a wide academic, practitioner, and general audience.

Editing a comprehensive volume in the field of IP brought certain special challenges. One was identifying a framework; another was choosing the right contributors. The challenges of setting an appropriate framework arose largely from the dynamism of IP as a field, due in turn to the constantly changing landscape in which IP rights exist and operate. Above all, changes in technology and the political economy, and in the methods by which knowledge is produced and IP rights are exploited and enforced locally and internationally, might have made it tempting to focus the Handbook on current trends. However, and as previously (p. vi) suggested, a central feature of IP law is its embeddedness in the social, economic, cultural, and political fabric of states and regions. That embeddedness creates a need to engage fully with its foundational theoretical and historical components as well. We thus chose to divide the Handbook into four substantive parts, focused on the social and normative foundations of IP law, its emergence and development in different jurisdictions and regions, its substantive rules and principles, and its political economy.

The same factors of IP dynamism and embeddedness made our choice of authors for the book essential. This was particularly true given that review essays are not as common in law as in other disciplines, and that in addition to its technical and other complexities, compounded when one considers its interaction with other legal areas, IP is a field in which perspectives can vary considerably depending on the lens through which one is looking, including the specific IP regime and legal system one treats as paradigmatic.

Of course, meeting these and other challenges has ultimately fallen less to us as the Handbook’s editors than to the individual authors of each of the chapters themselves. While it is not for us to judge how well they have met the challenges, we hope and trust that their rich and varied contributions will be enjoyable and instructive to a diverse readership.

Inevitably for a volume of its size, the Handbook took longer than planned to come to fruition. As a result, some of our authors have had to wait longer than expected to see their chapters published, and we are grateful for their patience. Tragically, we lost one of our authors during the project. Catherine Seville was an outstanding historian and legal academic, as her chapter on the emergence and development of IP law in Western Europe reflects, and we are grateful to her father, Adrian Seville, for supporting its posthumous publication.

Several others have also provided us with invaluable support and assistance, some of whom we would like to mention by name. Nicole Arzt of NYU managed the not insignificant feat of keeping us on top of the project administratively; Alex Flach, Imogen Hill, and the other members of our editorial team at OUP engaged fully with the project at each of its stages from conception to final production; and Tobias Endrich (Oxford MJur 2016) helped us to prepare its individual chapters for copyediting. We are very grateful to each of them.

We also thank Michael Birnhack, the S Horowitz Institute for Intellectual Property, and the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy, for hosting and supporting a wonderful workshop in the Handbook’s honor at Tel Aviv University on 7 and 8 December 2015. And last but by no means least, we express sincere appreciation for the significant and varied contributions of Robert Dreyfuss and Jonathan Pila throughout the project, including their aesthetic input on candidate images for the cover in its final stage.

Rochelle C. Dreyfuss and Justine Pila

New York and Oxford

March 2018


(1) P Goodridge, J Haskel, and G Wallis, Estimating UK Investment in Intangible Assets and Intellectual Property Rights: Report Commissioned by the Intellectual Property Office (The Intellectual Property Office 2014) 4.