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Andrew Stark wins Fulbright

Andrew Stark, UTSC professor of management, has won a Fulbright Scholar Award (Fulbright photo)

Andrew Stark, UTSC professor of management, won a Fulbright Scholar Award and will spend the academic year at Columbia University conducting research for a book about US intellectual property conflicts.

"We are very pleased that Andy has won this award – a Fulbright often allows the best scholars to move ahead projects that will have real impact and significance. In this particular case, I can think of few other areas of scholarly research and writing as important as intellectual property issues. In addition, Stark will be able to bring a distinct Canadian perspective to bear upon his interactions with American colleagues at Columbia,” says Rick Halpern, dean and vice-principal, academic.

Stark’s book, A Theory of Intellectual Property in America, will examine the contentious US legal battles over patents and copyright through the lens of philosophy.

“If you look at how the legal community talks about intellectual property, they say the law is a mess. Nothing makes sense. That’s true if you look at the issue through a legal lens. If you use categories drawn from philosophy then you start to achieve some clarity,” Stark says.

For example, he imagines the arguments if Joseph Conrad brought a copyright infringement suit against Francis Ford Coppola and claimed that the movie Apocalypse Now infringed on his novella Heart of Darkness. Both stories are about someone sailing up a river in a tropical country to find a powerful but insane figure. Coppola would argue that you can’t copyright the idea of a trip up a river. Conrad would argue that despite the differences between the stories, Coppola had stolen the expression of a more fundamental idea.

Stark says that by applying philosophical concepts in this and a number of other cases, he can show that a body of law that seems confusing in a legal sense is actually making distinctions that are sound in a philosophical sense.

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