In Working Knowledge, Catherine Fisk chronicles the legal and social transformations that led to the transfer of ownership of employee innovation from labor to management. This deeply contested development was won at the expense of workers' entrepreneurial independence and ultimately, Fisk argues, economic democracy.
By reviewing judicial decisions and legal scholarship on all aspects of employee-generated intellectual property and combing the archives of major nineteenth-century intellectual property-producing companies--including DuPont, Rand McNally, and the American Tobacco Company--Fisk makes a highly technical area of law accessible to general readers while also addressing scholarly deficiencies in the histories of labor, intellectual property, and the business of technology.
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Working Knowledge is a tour de force. Fisk takes a series of subjects that individually are complex and multi-layeredlabor relations, intellectual property rights, control over innovationand weaves them together into a pattern that is both subtle and clear. Scholars of innovation, of labor relations, of intellectual property, and of legal history will all find something fascinating here. Highly recommended!James Boyle, author of The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind
Fisk's important and gracefully written book pulls together insights from disparate fields to inform our understanding of the creation and dissemination of intellectual property. The legal ideas are given life through an impressive and judicious use of archival material to illustrate how legal doctrine had an impact on the way lawyers, entrepreneurs, inventors, and capitalists shaped their business practices as well as their legal strategies. An impressive accomplishment.Alfred S. Konefsky, University at Buffalo Law School, The State University of New York
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Good look at the change from individual to corporate control of innovation and creation, accomplished by changes in business practices and related changes in law. Most useful in demonstrating that the much-vaunted move from status to contract was not necessarily, as proponents often claimed, about expanding freedom; courts were entirely willing to imply terms in the contract that favored the employer and that were inconsistent with past practice. As employees often lacked bargaining power or even knowledge that they needed to bargain, this meant a substantial increase in vulnerability, connected to larger contradictions in the ideology of free labor.