Intellectual Property and Criminalisation: An Historical Perspective
Intellectual property (‘IP’) is thought to be the domain of civil rather than criminal law. Recent years, however, have seen an increase in the role of the criminal law in combatting infringement: new criminal offences have been created, existing penalties have been increased and the importance of criminal law to IP enforcement has been recognised at an EU and international level. The importance of criminal law to IP enforcement is assumed to be a new development; a response to a perceived unprecedented problem of piracy and counterfeiting relating to organized crime, exacerbated by on-line crime. Yet, the criminalisation of IP infringement in fact has a much longer history.
The project will provide the first in-depth study of the history of the criminalisation of IP infringement, starting in the late 18th/early 19th century (the time of the emergence of the notion of criminal law as a discrete body of law) and ending in the present day. It will encompass a number of detailed case-studies, providing a close account of criminalisation in different contexts and at different points in time, in the various branches to form modern IP, including the relationship of these branches of law to the general criminal law. In doing so, it will facilitate a re-thinking of the history of modern IP, as well as engaging with the challenges raised by the criminalisation of IP infringement today.