Book Chapter

A Matter of Sense: What Intellectual Property Rights Protect

Andrew Christie

Across Intellectual Property: Essay in Honour of Sam Ricketson | Cambridge University Press | Published : 2020


To the elemental question of what is the nature of intellectual property, the conventional answer is that it is ‘intangible’ and hence has no physical existence. This is because, it is said, there is a fundamental dichotomy between the immaterial subject matter that is protected by an IP right and its embodiment in some material object. This chapter revisits the elemental question and comes to the conclusion that the conventional view mis-states the position. In particular, while it is true that IP laws recognise something like the tangible/intangible duality, properly understood the rights granted by those laws do not attach to the immaterial subject matter; rather, they attach to the mater..

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