The New Cognitive Property: Human Capital Law and the Reach of Intellectual Property

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  • August 3, 2015

Contemporary law is expanding into the area of “cognitive property,” leading to the commodification of intellectual intangibles, including human capital. In this Article, Professor Lobel explores this phenomenon, focusing on the the increase in trade secret protection and the so-called “talent wars.” She uncovers the harms of this new cognitive property and analyzes these effects through the lens of new economic research about endogenous growth, labor-market search, and innovation networks. She argues that this rise in cognitive controls should be understood as the Third Enclosure Movement, which propertizes the intangibles of the human mind and stifles potential innovations.

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