This book applies a novel conflict-based approach to the notions of ‘idea’, ‘concept’, ‘invention’ and ‘immateriality’ in the legal regime of intellectual property rights by turning to the adversarial legal practices in which they occur. In doing so, it provides extensive ethnographies of the courts and law firms, and tackles classical questions in legal doctrine about the immaterial nature of intellectual property rights from a thoroughly new perspective.
The book follows the legal proceedings of disputes in patent, copyright and trademark law as they circulate from the sites of enterprises, through the offices of law firms, the court registry, the courtroom and the judge’s office, until they finally arrive at judgment. In this way, the central matters of a dispute are gradually transformed into immaterial works, inventions, or signs through the ceaseless ‘material’ operations of legal practices. This analysis sheds light on how seemingly abstract philosophical notions are rendered workable as concrete legal concepts with important consequences.
Grounds of the Immaterial offers an inventive and refreshing take on intellectual property rights which will be valued by academics and students in philosophy, legal theory, legal anthropology and intellectual property.