By Dennis Crouch
Intellectual Property Law is really a general term used to describe a host of more particular legal regimes. Parties do not apply for “intellectual property rights” or go to court to enforce “IP rights.” Rather, parties hold and enforce patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, etc. In writing about the area, legal academics often use the broader term Intellectual Property to suggest that their results and conclusions apply broadly. It turns out though that very often, articles that purport to be directed to Intellectual Property in general are not so broad in their specifics but instead focus on only one or perhaps two particular areas of intellectual property law. To look into this process, I collected set of about 350 law journal articles published 2011-2013 that include the phrase “Intellectual Property” in their title. I then parsed the articles to identify which particular areas of intellectual property law served as the article focal points. I did this simply by counting the usage of words such as “patent”, “copyright,” “trademark,” and “trade secret” in each article.
Results: Of the self-styled “Intellectual Property” articles, a full 1/3 focused almost entirely on one area of intellectual property. The threshold for this result was that >90% of specific references were directed to one particular area of IP law. Another 1/3 of the articles focused almost entirely on two areas of intellectual property. Intellectual Property articles in this sample were most likely to focus on patent law as shown in the chart below. Of the paired-areas, the most common are Patent+Copyright and Copyright+Trademark but not Patent+Trademark.