Evergreening

A colourful colloquialism of slightly shady connotation, referring to the practice by which an IP right-holder seeks to extend the duration of protection by adding further IP rights to his initial right. So  nineteenth-century publishers would encourage authors or editors to update or revise publications near the end of the term of copyright; the new edition could then be marketed as “new and improved” and could depress the sale of the competing but now less attractive out-of-copyright work. The practice still continues: “approved” editions of James Joyce’s works, authorized by Joyce’s heirs, may seem more attractive than “unapproved” reprints. Elsewhere patent holders trawl for aspects of their invention which they further patent (e.g., new dosages of patented drugs), or obtain trade-marks over some feature of the invention so that those copying the no longer patented invention will now be sued for trade-mark infringement or passing-off. Wily rights-holders can thus turn decidedly “deciduous” finite terms of protection lives into “evergreen” infinite terms, unless thwarted by a wilier CIPO or court.

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