I was recently asked to give a Master Class (whatever that means, this Kat being far from being a master). The proposed topic was "Recent Developments in IP." With all due respect to the organizers of the class, the topic seemed a bit hackneyed and bereft of what the U.S. Supreme Court famously termed any "spark of creativity."
It occurred to me that a better way to consider recent developments was to put IP law and practice in the form of historical context (this Kat was a Medieval History major some time shortly after the end of that historical period). As so I decided to prepare a list of "IP law and practice milestones" from around 1970 to the present. The date was chosen as signalling the beginning of the rise of IP as a field of study as well as the time, more or less, that the practice of IP law began to seriously develop in law firms across various jurisdictions.
And so, please find my list, the result of several hours of thinking and rethinking about the most notable IP milestones and when, more or less, each such milestone began to take material shape. As the title of this blog indicates, this is merely one Kat's list and readers are welcome to offer their own. So let's take it away.
1. 1970s-- The rise of the PC.
2. 1975---The ascendancy of Microsoft, PC software and the network
effect, and the ultimate decline of the first incarnation of Apple.
3. 1976--The U.S. 1976 Copyright Act is enacted.
4. 1980--The rise of the importance of the role of IP in the U.S. (especially copyright and patent) in response to the perceived challenge from Japan.
5. 1980--Bayh-Dole Act ushers in new era of government-university cooperation.
6. 1980--Copyright protection is extended to computer code.
7. 1983--The U.S. Federal Circuit for patent and trademark appeals is established.
8. 1985--The globalization of IP begins to take shape (U.S. joins Berne; ratification of the TRIP's agreement).
9. 1985--The rise of the generic pharmaceutical market.
10. 1989--M&A's and the role of the super brand.
11. 1990--The open source movement goes mainstream.
12. 1992--The Feist decision in the U.S. expands the right of the public to contents.
13. 1995--The internet enters the personal household.
14. 1995--The Chinese challenge to enforcement of IP rights.
15. 1996--OHIM begins to register EU-wide trade marks.
16. 1998--WIPO Diplomatic Conference seeks to bring copyright to bear on the online world.
17. 2000--Enforcement of trade mark rights in domain name registrations becomes a cottage industry.
18. 1999-- Rembrandts in the Attic is published, draws attention to underexploited IP assets.
19. 2003-- Google becomes the search engine of choice.
20. 2005--Cloud computing goes mainstream.
21. 2005--Wikipedia and the creation of collaborative contents.
22. 2005--Social media and the recalibration between IP and secrecy/privacy.
23. 2006--The eBay decision in the U.S. declares war on the patent troll.
25. 2007--Apple, with its platforms and ecosystem, does it with the iPhone and does it again with the iPad.