Book Chapter




Noto La Diega G (2023) Idea. In: Torremans P, Stamatoudi I, Yu PK & Jutte BJ (eds.) Edward Elgar Encyclopaedia of Intellectual Property Law.

Psychology studies have for some time shown that, as humans, we tend to recognise the ownership of ideas and that the unauthorised use of others’ ideas is frowned upon (Olson and Shaw, 2011). Morally, a person is often said to have a natural right to the product of their brain (Vaver, 1990). This explains why Intellectual Property (IP) is so frequently defined as the legal protection of ideas (e.g. British Library, 2023). It is one of core tenets of IP law that ideas as such are not protected, IP protection exists only for manners of expressing or instantiating ideas (Mandel, 2014; Bilski v. Kappos, 130 S. Ct. 3218, 3225 (2010)). In this encyclopedia entry, the concept of idea is illustrated with reference to the idea-expression dichotomy in copyright law, to the exclusion of abstract ideas in patent law, and to the protection of ideas as trade secrets. It will be argued that ideas are becoming increasingly the domain of IP, which is open to criticism from a policy perspective. This entry considers the law as it stands in Europe, including the UK; US law is considered where it addresses the (non)protectability of ideas in a clearer or more direct way (mostly in patent law).

The encyclopedia's editors have authorised the publication of the preprint

StatusIn Press
Publication date online19/07/2023

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