This book is the result of the PhD project I started four years ago at Europa-Kolleg Hamburg. I had the great opportunity to work on it for one year at the European University Institute in Florence and to finalise the oeuvre during my stay with the European Commission's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies in Seville. The subject matter of the book is intellectual property rights, patents in particular, and their process of harmonisation in Europe. At the beginning of the work, the intention was not to focus immediately on one narrow field in the huge realm of intellectual property rights but rather to open my mind in order to capture a broad variety of new ideas and concepts in the book. The work at three different institutes in three different European countries over the period of four years naturally exposed the work to diverging ideas and the exchange of views with many people. This is one reason for the wide spread of topics ordered around the given leitmotif, such as epistemological foundations, political background information,. the protection of biotechnological inventions and the building up process of intellectual property right systems in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In chapter two I take up Polanyi's differentiation of codifiable and tacit knowledge. Applying these concepts to my own work I realise that this book is only the visible and codified part of knowledge I was able to capture.
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The subject of investigation of this book is the economic effect of intellectual property rights in general, and in particular, the harmonisation of such rights in Europe. The book is built upon two case studies. One is looking at the internal situation of the European Union by analysing the situation of patenting for biotechnological inventions in Europe. The other looks at a European Union related issue, that is the harmonisation and building-up process of intellectual property right systems in Central and Eastern European countries.
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