Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Lefstin on Robinson and the Essence of Patent Law
Jeffrey Lefstin has delivered the inaugural Dean William Callyhan Robinson Lecture at the Columbus School of Law, Catholic University. This distinguished lectureship in intellectual property was created to honor William Robinson, the author of patent law's most influential work. The lecture was called "William Callyhan Robinson and the Essence of Patent Law," and here is the abstract: Professor Lefstin explores how Robinson -- originally an Episcopalian minister -- came to Catholicism and to patent law. Surprisingly, the two were intertwined in Robinson's thought, and both Robinson's Catholicism and his system of patent law were products of the unique milieu of late 19th Century America. Paradoxically, the cornerstone of Robinson's system of patent law --- his "essence of the invention" -- was both the most influential, and the most forgotten, aspect of his monumental work. Professor Lefstin examines how Robinson's concept shaped the patent law of the 20th Century, and how renewed attention to his concept might serve the patent law of the 21st.