Monday, 2 February 2004
This post gives me an opportunity to ask a question I have had rolling around in my head for a while. When, in the history of copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, patents, and the like, did people begin to think of these things as a unified whole — as intellectual property? When did these intangible things cease to be limited monopolies and start to be monetizable assets? Jason points out that Marvel and DC are the two major competitors in the field of comic book publishing, and the letter they apparently sent (together) to the author of "Super Hero Happy Hour" makes it obvious that they think of their trademarks as revenue sources — not a means by which they can differentiate themselves from one another. The trademark itself is an asset, not the goodwill associated with it.
I have studied IP seriously for around five years now, and I have become increasingly frustrated by my lack of knowledge of the economic history of the field. My studies have focused on the economic theories underlying IP in general, the current state of the law, and the history of major amendments to the law. What I never got in school was the economic history of intangible assets. I would sincerely appreciate a pointer to a good book (or group of books) that covers this topic.