One of the common themes in public debate has been the law's inability to accommodate the ways of creating, distributing and replicating intellectual products that have developed. In this book the authors argue that in order to understand many of the problems confronting the law, it is necessary to understand its past.
Drawing on extensive archival research, Sherman and Bently provide a detailed account of the emergence of modern British intellectual property law. In doing so they explore two related themes. First, they explain why intellectual property law came to take its now familiar shape with sub-categories of patents, copyright, designs and trade marks. Arguing against those who see intellectual property law as occupying its natural position or as being shaped by some higher philosophical principles, the work sets out to show the complex and contingent nature of this area of law.
Secondly, as well as charting this emergence of intellectual property law as a discrete area of legal doctrine, the authors also set out to explain how it is that the law grants property status to intangibles and describe the ensuing problems. This work goes on to explore the rise and fall of creativity as an organising concept in intellectual property law, the creative nature of intellectual property law and the important role that the registration process plays in shaping intangible property.