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The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law Hardcover – December 28, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0674012042 ISBN-10: 0674012046 Edition: First Edition (US) First Printing

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The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law + Intellectual Property in the New Technological Age, Sixth Edition (Aspen Casebook Series)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (December 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674012046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674012042
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #334,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Intellectual property is the most important public policy issue that most policymakers don't yet get. It is America's most important export, and affects an increasingly wide range of social and economic life. In this extraordinary work, two of America's leading scholars in the law and economics movement test the pretensions of intellectual property law against the rationality of economics. Their conclusions will surprise advocates from both sides of this increasingly contentious debate. Their analysis will help move the debate beyond the simplistic ideas that now tend to dominate. (Lawrence Lessig, Stanford Law School, author of The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World)

An image from modern mythology depicts the day that Einstein, pondering a blackboard covered with sophisticated calculations, came to the life-defining discovery: Time = $$. Landes and Posner, in the role of that mythological Einstein, reveal at every turn how perceptions of economic efficiency pervade legal doctrine. This is a fascinating and resourceful book. Every page reveals fresh, provocative, and surprising insights into the forces that shape law. (Pierre N. Leval, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit)

The most important book ever written on intellectual property. (William Patry, former copyright counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee)

Given the immense and growing importance of intellectual property to modern economies, this book should be welcomed, even devoured, by readers who want to understand how the legal system affects the development, protection, use, and profitability of this peculiar form of property. The book is the first to view the whole landscape of the law of intellectual property from a functionalist (economic) perspective. Its examination of the principles and doctrines of patent law, copyright law, trade secret law, and trademark law is unique in scope, highly accessible, and altogether greatly rewarding. (Steven Shavell, Harvard Law School, author of Foundations of Economic Analysis of Law)

Chicago law professor William Landes and his polymath colleague Richard Posner have produced a fascinating new book...[The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law] is a broad-ranging analysis of how intellectual property should and does work...Shakespeare's copying from Plutarch, Microsoft's incentives to hide the source code for Windows, and Andy Warhol's right to copyright a Brillo pad box as art are all analyzed, as is the question of the status of the all-bran cereal called 'All-Bran.' (Nicholas Thompson New York Sun 2003-12-10)

Landes and Posner, each widely respected in the intersection of law and economics, investigate the right mix of protection and use of intellectual property (IP)...This volume provides a broad and coherent approach to the economics and law of IP. The economics is important, understandable, and valuable. (R. A. Miller Choice 2004-04-01)

About the Author

William M. Landes is the Clifton R. Musser Professor Emeritus of Law and Economics at the University of Chicago Law School.

Richard A. Posner is Circuit Judge, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Engineer on February 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Probably the best starting point for understanding the positive and negative economic effects of intellectual property protection. The book is a fairly easy read assuming an academic exposure to economics 101 and a working knowledge of IP law. I read it in two days over thanksgiving vacation as part preparation for a fall patents exam. The book covers the basic economic benefits of IP protection - incentive, information, reduction in search costs, etc. vs. the economic costs - rent seeking, transaction costs, dead weight loss, etc. Good introductory reading for law students, legislative aids, and aspiring lobbyists from the medical-industrial complex.

The book has three very slight weaknesses, inherent in the topic it covers. First, the book admits early on that its own analysis is something of an over-simplification. Unwarranted self-criticism. A better "criticism" is that the real world fits the exception more often than the general rules, and specific situations will most often require a deeper analysis. Lifesaving pharmaceuticals, internet postings, and talking dog collar inventions are distinct situations and really just beg distinct economic analyses.

The second weakness is the assumption that the primary justification for IP law is/should be economic efficiency, superceding moral rights or property rights. Overall, sustains the status quo thinking that the steelworker, the scientist, the engineers, the farmers are just economic units on a global chessboard - not humans, and not part of a communities social fabric. Ignore at your own peril.

Third criticism, not nearly a strong enough position on the horrific transaction and litigation costs associated with the patent system in the U.S.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My interest was in the patent system, so I am ONLY reviewing the two chapters on that topic (patents, and the closely related question of adjudication of patent cases in the Federal circuit). The chapter on patents was extremely disappointing. It is full of hypothetical examples of things that might happen, with no demonstration whatsoever that they do, no discussion of what impacts the law has on society, even very few citations of case law examples. As a physical scientist I expect people to confirm theory with data. The authors of this book do not seem to agree. There is no examination of productivity, economic growth, technological advancement, or any other sensible measure of social benefit as a function of the application of patent law. The chapter on the change in adjudication to the Federal courts at least shows a bit of data but is again focussed on a very narrow issue, and provides little illumination of the larger questions of how the law affects society. I'm not sure what the target audience of this book was, but it ain't me. If you're still inclined to waste money on this, contact me first, and I'll send my copy to you.
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