Lysander Spooner Intellectual PropertyIf you grew up in the United States, you probably learned in school that the founding fathers were always wealthy property owners. Many of them were wealthy because of inherited land property and all that comes with it, but many were also wealthy because they started businesses and succeeded.

There was one form of property that was hard to put a value on until government could regulate such a thing: intangible forms of property, i.e. present day's intellectual property (IP). In Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution, it states that Congress shall have the power, "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Early American inventors were not only given the rights to exclusive publishing and license to distribute their creations, but they were also indirectly contributing to the public domain in this way. This inclusion was a win-win for both inventors starting a business and a government with the need to provide a public domain.

Another thing you probably remember if you grew up in the United States, is that you got the day off for Veteran's Day. We of course want to say thank you to US military veterans on Veteran's Day (thank you Mike and Shay!). And with this being an IP blog, Traklight also wants to shed light on a significant veteran of IP law. One hundred fifty years ago there lived a legal theorist who made it clear why he believed IP is necessary.

Lysander Spooner literally published the book on it. Titled "The Law of Intellectual Property" and published in 1855, Spooner's book was one of the earliest uses of the term IP. He discussed his opinions on:

  • What is wealth?
  • What is property?
  • What is the right of property? 
  • What things are subjects of property?
  • How is the right of property acquired?
  • What is the foundation of the right of property? 
  • How is the right of property transferred? 

In addition, Spooner included an extensive fifteen chapters on objections to intellectual property. You can read the full text here: Amazingly, they cover the vast majority of even the most current objections to intellectual property, but it does need an update to account for file sharing on modern electronic devices. If you need help identifying your intellectual property, we have a modern tool to do just that: ID your IP

WWLSD? (What would Lysander Spooner do?)

I'll bet he would take this short quiz to find out his risk of IP theft.
Free Risk Quiz