International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property


1. ISHTIP has been established to facilitate the development of interdisciplinary research in relation to intellectual property norms (broadly understood to include legal, social and other norms that purport to regulate the creation, evolution, dissemination and re-use of ideas, expressions, creations, innovations, as well as commercial signs and symbols). In particular, ISHTIP has been established to bring together scholars working in law, the arts and humanities, and the social sciences, to explore why, how and with what effect different societies at different times have sought to recognise particular ideas or artefacts as new or creative, to identify and attribute particular responsibility for discovery and creation to individuals or groups, or to empower particular individuals or groups to control or limit the re-use of particular intellectual ideas or signs.

2. ISHTIP encourages such research through the hosting of an annual workshop, the establishing of a network of interested scholars and through a website that operates as a location for sharing resources.


3. ISHTIP is an unincorporated association.

4. ISHTIP has two Directors, a Governing Board, and an Executive Committee of the Governing Board. Both Boards comprised initially volunteers who came together to found the Society and indicated a willingness to give their time and energy to the Society. This Constitution formalizes these arrangements, provides for transition to the formalised regime, and introduces a new category of ‘Advisory Board members’.


5. The Society has two Directors, one of whom must be a scholar primarily from a legal background and one of whom must be a scholar primarily from a non-legal background. The Directors must be based in different jurisdictions.

6. The Directors shall take primary responsibility for ensuring the success of the Society. In particular they will

  1. Chair the Executive Committee and Governing Board;
  2. Monitor the activities of the Executive Committee and Governing Board (in particular attendance at workshops);
  3. Nominate hosts for the annual workshop and determine the timing of the workshop;
  4. Collaborate with the host of the annual workshop in developing a suitable theme (reflecting the broad goals of the Society);
  5. Participate in the selection of papers for the annual workshop;
  6. Nominate a new director when an existing director’s tenure comes to an end (para. 9);
  7. Nominate new members of the Executive Committee (in accordance with para 14(v));
  8. Nominate new members to the Governing Board (in accordance with para 21).

7. The tenure of a Director is 5 years. However,

(i) Directors may resign at any time, but with effect from the next Annual Meeting (at which time a replacement will be elected);

(ii) A Director may be removed at the request of the other Director by means of a vote of 70% of the Governing Board.

8. On completion of their terms Directors will move onto the Society’s Executive Committee for 2 years and Governing Board for 5 years.

9. At least one prospective Director must be nominated by the surviving Director. Other members of the Governing Board may also nominate candidates.

10. The Directors are elected by the Governing Board by majority vote. In the event of a tie, the vote of the Executive Committee shall count double. 

11. Transitional. The term of the initial founding directors will come to an end in 2014 (Bently) and 2016 (Woodmansee), though they may be re-elected.

12. The first election will occur at the Annual Meeting 2014.

Executive Committee

14. The Executive Committee consists of

(i) the Society Directors (and former Directors, as provided in paragraph 8), who shall co-chair the Committee

(ii) the organiser of the workshop for that year,

(iii) the organiser of the workshop for the previous year,

(iv) the organiser of the workshop for the following year, and

(v) such other persons as the Governing Board  may elect to the Executive Committee when appropriate in order to achieve particular tasks (such as website operation).  Such additional members shall remain on the Executive Committee for 5 years (but may be re-elected).

15. The Executive Committee will assist the host of the workshop for any particular year in:

  1. Developing the  workshop theme;
  2. Formulating the workshop call for papers;
  3. Disseminating information and publishing the workshop  call for papers;
  4. Selecting workshop papers.

16. If any member of the Executive Committee fails to attend 2 consecutive meetings, this will be deemed to amount to resignation from the Executive Committee.

17. Transitional. In 2014, the Executive Committee is comprised of Lionel Bently, Martha Woodmansee, Will Slauter (Paris, 2013), Eva Hemmungs Wirtén (Uppsala, 2014) and Peter Decherney (Penn, 2015).

Governing Board

18. The   Governing Board shall be comprised of no more than 25 persons (including the Executive Committee), all of whom must be academic scholars with continuing or emeritus posts in universities.

19.  Members of the Governing Board are expected

(i) to attend the annual workshop;

(ii) to attend the annual Governing Board meeting; and

(iii) to contribute their ideas and energy to ensure the development of the Society.

20. The Governing Board shall

(i) elect the Directors (para. 10);

(ii) elect new Members to the Executive Committee (para. 14(v));

(iii) elect and re-elect new Members of the Governing Board (para. 22).

21. Prospective new members of the Governing Board shall be nominated by the Directors for the time being, having regard in particular

  1. to the importance of ensuring appropriate representation from a diversity of disciplines (and in particular that not more than half have primarily legal backgrounds);

(ii) to the importance of ensuring representation from a broad spectrum of research paradigms, cultures, places and discourses.

22. Following nomination by the Directors (under para. 21), new members of the Governing Board shall be elected by the existing Governing Board by majority vote. No person may, however, vote in relation to his/her own position.

23. Persons shall remain on the Governing Board for 5 years, though they may be re-elected. Members of the Governing Board may resign at any time by giving notice to the Directors.

24. If any member of the Governing Board fails to attend 3 consecutive meetings, this will be deemed to amount to resignation from the Governing Board.

25. Retiring Governing Board members will become ‘Advisory Board members’ (para. 28) and will be listed on the Society website along with their dates of service.

26. Transitional. In order to ensure continuity the expiry of the terms of the existing Governing Board (with the exception of the Executive Committee) shall be carried out by lottery: 4 members will be allocated 5 years from 2014, 4 members 4 years, 4 members 3 years and 4 members 2 years from 2014. The Executive Committee shall continue as Governing Board members for 5 years from 2014.

Advisory Board Members

27. There shall be a category of ‘Advisory Board members’.

28. All former members of the Governing Board shall become ‘Advisory Board members’ in recognition of their contribution and continued engagement with the Society.

29. Advisory Board Members shall remain as such unless and until they request not to be Advisory Board Members.


30. There will be a meeting of the Governing Board at least once each year, ordinarily at the annual workshop. The meeting will only be quorate if at least one of the directors and more than 50% of the membership of the Governing Board is present.

31. Where the meeting is not quorate, or where both Directors cannot be present, a further meeting may be held electronically through e-mail circulation.

32. At the Annual meeting the Governing Board:

(i) shall determine who shall host the annual workshop for the 2 subsequent years;

(ii) shall elect (or re-elect), as necessary, the Society Directors, members of the Executive Committee, and members of the Governing Board;

(iii) shall consider whether and if so how to carry out any other activities that would further the goals of the Society;

(iv) authorise any such action as it deems appropriate to further the goals of the Society.

33. In deciding where to hold the workshop, the Governing Board should seek to vary the locations of the Workshop geographically, and as far as possible to ensure that workshops are hosted at institutions with diverse disciplinary affiliations. 

34. Except as provided elsewhere, in coming to decisions, the Governing Board shall act by majority vote. In any case where a vote is tied, the votes of the Executive Committee shall count double.


35. The annual Workshop shall

  1. Consist chiefly of discussion of papers circulated in advance of the workshop;
  2. Concern a particular theme in the history and theory of intellectual property;
  3. Last for at least two consecutive days;
  4. Be timed to ensure a wide range of potential participants can attend;
  5. Be freely open to all academics interested in intellectual property including graduate students;
  6. Comprise discussion of papers the majority of which are to be selected from  submissions following a widely circulated call for papers;
  7. As far as possible include a broad spectrum of papers from scholars in diverse disciplines;

(viii) Include papers from new as well as established scholars, and seek geographical variety.

36. The Workshop shall be publicized on the ISHTIP website.

37. The host may charge those attending the Workshop a sum to cover event costs. However, it is expected that the host will do its best to keep such costs to a minimum and will seek funding to allay costs.

38. A selection of the best papers from the Workshop may be hosted on the ISHTIP website with authors’ permission


39. The Society shall operate a website. The Governing Board will from time to time decide the most appropriate host for the website. (At present, the website is hosted by CREATe at the University of Glasgow.)

40. One of the Directors for the time being shall hold and maintain the domain name

41. The contents of the website shall include:

(i) details of the ISHTIP constitution;

(ii) the details of the Directors, Executive Committee, and Governing Board;

(iii) details of the next annual Workshop, and call for papers;

(iv) an archive of previous Workshops, their themes and contents;

(v) a selection of papers from previous Workshops;

(vi) a list of ‘Advisory Board members’;

(vii) details of other ISHTIP activities.


42. This Constitution may be amended

  1. At the suggestion of one of the Directors; and
  2. After a vote of the Governing Board in which more than 70% of those present agree to the change.


This Constitution was agreed to electronically on or before July 2, 2014, by the following members of the initial Governing Board:

Lionel Bently

Maurizio Borghi

Kathy Bowrey

Ronan Deazley

Peter Decherney

Christophe Geiger

Gustavo Ghidini

Peter Jaszi

Adrian Johns

Martin Kretschmer

Maria Lilla Montagnani

Joshua Sarnoff

Brad Sherman

Will Slauter

Simon Stern

Eva Hemmungs Wirtén

Martha Woodmansee

Did not respond:

Johanna Gibson

Alain Pottage

Katie Scott

Unable to agree to Cl 8, 9: Mario Biagioli

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International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property (ISHTIP)