Malmen, Liz


Over fifty years ago man first landed on the moon. Since then, outer space has become increasingly closer with the direction and development of the commercial space industry. What was once an exclusive government function is turning into a private business. It is no longer difficult to imagine the possibility of going to space when companies like SpaceX have launched private crews into orbit. However, encouraging technological advancements to support the commercial space industry requires adequate legal protections of such innovation. This can be challenging when international space law has had little growth since man was first on the moon, and gaps in the law exist that enable exploitation of technology. In order to effectively protect private companies in the commercial space industry there must be a change in the legal system.

This article explores the historical and legal development of international space law and its effect on patent protection as the predominantly governmental activities involving outer space enter the private sector. It will discuss private companies’ protection under international treaties and national patent laws. Further, this article will look at the United States' ability to apply its patent laws to infringers extraterritorially or in space and the loophole created in the law. Finally, this article will examine solutions to the jurisdictional gaps that enable exploitation and suggests that the best approach is creating a unified patent law and separate jurisdiction in space.



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