Suffolk Law Professor Says Intellectual Property Law Founded On 'Eureka Myth'14:48

This article is more than 6 years old.

Consider the origins of some of the companies you rely on the most, like Amazon, Apple, or Google. What do their stories have in common? They were all founded in garages.

And Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Larry Page are just as legendary as their companies — a stroke of genius in the basement and, ah ha! The iPod, the Kindle, the future is born.

But those ah ha moments are rare, says Jessica Silbey. She argues most inventions are more collaborative and rely on a foundation of work done by many others, which is why intellectual property law can be so tricky.

And whether you realize it or not, you're interacting with intellectual property law every day. Even when you do something as simple as wishing someone happy birthday.


Jessica Silbey, professor of law at Suffolk University Law School and author of "The Eureka Myth: Creators, Innovators and Everyday Intellectual Property." She tweets @JSilbey.


Slate: The Eureka Myth

  • "Sure, IP rights can help artists, scientists, and engineers earn a living. And they (like all of us) need money to live and to continue working. But the exclusive rights that IP provides to inventors, artists, and writers that would enable them to charge monopoly prices for their work did not feature centrally in the inspirational stories I heard creators and innovators tell about their everyday work."

This segment aired on January 26, 2015.