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KOL411 | IP Law Tutorial, Part 2: Copyright Law


Kinsella on Liberty Podcast: Episode 411.

As noted in KOL409 (Part 1: Patent Law), although I’ve done dozens of speeches and interviews over the past 20 or so years on libertarian aspects of intellectual property, or IP, that is, on IP policy, I’ve never done any in depth lectures for libertarians on IP law itself. In KOL409, I did a brief overview of various types of IP law, and then focused on the patent law and patent application process itself.

This episode provides a tutorial on copyright law. (Recorded Thursday, April 27, 2023.) See additional note below.

For other episodes in the series:

The slides I used are streamed below and here (.pptx) and streamed below.

In the Q&A session, a participant asked a question about joint ownership of patents and patent licensing. In the lecture I had pointed out that for co-authors of a copyright-protected work, each has the right to license the work, without permission of the other co-author(s), but has to share any profits (make an accounting) with them. The question was what the rule was in the case of patents, and I had forgotten the nuance.

In patents the rule is similar, except the inventor-co-owner who grants the license need not make an accounting.


Regarding the issue of joint inventors on a patent, I had a brain fart. In copyright, co-authors can each license the work but if they make a profit, they have to account to the other co-author.

Under patent law, if there are joint inventors, they all presumably co-own the patent (unless the employer does in the case of work for hire), and each one is entitled to (non-exclusively) license it, just as in the copyright case, but there is no obligation to do an accounting of profits made.
As the Patent Act (35 USC §262 – Joint owners) provides:
In the absence of any agreement to the contrary, each of the joint owners of a patent may make, use, offer to sell, or sell the patented invention within the United States, or import the patented invention into the United States, without the consent of and without accounting to the other owners.
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