Patents as Genre: A Prospectus


Like other forms of intellectual property, patents have increasingly been the subject of controversy regarding their successes and failures in promoting and channeling innovation. But unlike other forms of intellectual property, patents are constituted and defined in terms of officially sanctioned texts. As a consequence, patents are deeply embedded in communities of composition, interpretation, and practice. In this paper we outline how genre analysis can be applied to interrogate the "typified rhetorical action" of the patent system and its constituent communities. We argue and demonstrate that understanding the rhetorical work of patents is key to addressing current criticisms of the patent system.

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