The practice of law has long been interdisciplinary. Rumpole of the Old Bail-
ey knew all about typewriters and bloodstains, and was no doubt the one to
brief if “The Case of the Bloodstained Typewriter” ever came along. Lawyers
who, on starting, know nothing of medicine or forensics have to become in-
stant experts when they get their rst big personal injury or criminal case.
They can only hope and pray that, if it comes to court, they will get a judge
whose abilities to absorb science transcend that explosion in the school lab.
Interdisciplinarity a commendable concept but an ugly word can
occur only where there is a discipline to be “inter-” with. Intellectual prop-
erty is a relative newcomer in these stakes compared with, say, torts or crim-
inal law or contracts or land law. Yet IP has always been interdisciplinary
because the elds it deals with involve technology and the arts, and the
interests in them that need nurturing, managing, and reconciling as their
products go public.
As a eld in its own right, however, IP for long remained underdevel-
oped. Since law curricula tend to track the subjects that practising lawyers
believe are important, the fact there seemed to be few IP lawyers around
misled scholars to conclude that nothing fertile lay out there for them to
work on. Economists and other social scientists woke up earlier.
It has taken the last couple of generations of legal scholars to catch on
to the fact that there is a there there. IP’s importance to society and the econ-
omy has become a commonplace, and patents, copyrights, trademarks, de-

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