Intellectual Property in the Experience Economy

Share with

Intellectual Property in the Experience Economy

Lecture in Honor of the Daniel J. Dykstra Chair featuring: Madhavi Sunder  

Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Daniel J. Dykstra Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law


In today's entertainment economy, goods and services are no longer enough. Today's consumers demand experiences. From Star Wars to Harry Potter, fans do not just want to watch or read about their favorite characters -- they want to be them. They don the robes of Gryffindor, flick their wands, and drink the butter beer. The owners of fantasy properties understand this. From light sabers to Harry Potter Theme parks, one can inhabit the role of Luke, Leia, Harry or Hermione with official imprimatur. Since Star Wars, courts have abetted this, fashioning "merchandising rights" appurtenant to copyrights and trademarks that give fantasy owners exclusive rights to supply our fantasy worlds with real goods. Do merchandising rights extend to fan activity, from fan fiction to real-world Quidditch leagues? This Article challenges the conventional account, arguing that as the economic value of fantasy merchandising increases in the emergent "experience economy," intellectual property owners may prove less keen on tolerating uncompensated uses of their creations. In fact, from Amazon's Kindle Worlds to crackdowns on fan art sold on Internet sites like Etsy, the holders of intellectual property in popular fantasies are seeking to create a world characterized by a License to Play.


Dean Sunder succeeded Professor and Dean Emeritus Rex Perschbacher, who was the inaugural holder of the Dykstra Chair. The chair is awarded to a faculty member who demonstrates "outstanding scholarship and teaching and is committed to the ideals of founding School of Law faculty member Dan Dykstra." Dykstra, one of the first faculty members hired at UC Davis School of Law in 1965, rose to become Dean from 1971 to 1974 and remained at King Hall until his retirement. Alumni, friends, and family of the late Dan Dykstra provided funding for the Daniel J. Dykstra Endowed Chair to honor his memory.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Lecture: 4:00p.m., Reception: 5:00p.m.

King Hall, Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom (Rm. 1001)

Free and open to the public