Category Archives: News

Identity and IP: how who we are informs our work

ISHTIP Online Discussion. 19/20 July 2021

A discussion of personal and identity-based perspectives exploring how these connect in some way with IP writing and research.

Attendees: Fady Aoun, Kathy Bowrey, Veit Erlmann, Susy Frankel, Hyo Yoon Kang, Jessica Lai, Sharon Le Gall, Toni Lester, Charleston Thomas, Hai-Yuean Tualima, Andrew Ventimiglia, Andrea Wallace.

Academic Open Letter in Support of the TRIPS Intellectual Property Waiver Proposal

July 2021

ISHTIP members Prof Graham Dutfield (University of Leeds), Dr Hyo Yoon Kang (Kent Law School), Dr Luke McDonagh (London School of Economics), along with Dr Aisling McMahon (Maynooth University) and Dr Siva Thambisetty (London School of Economics) have drafted an open letter signed by over 100 IP academics in support of the Indian and South African proposal for temporary TRIPS waiver “as a necessary and proportionate legal measure towards the clearing of existing intellectual property barriers to scaling up of production of COVID-19 health technologies in a direct, consistent and effective fashion”.

Drawing upon the history and theory of intellectual property, the letter acknowledges that patents have never been absolute rights. They are monopoly rights granted to serve the public interest. Patents “ must not be allowed to stand in the way of measures designed to make accessible the health technologies needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, where universal global access is essential for the global public good.”

Monopolies over tacit and informal information, are also implicated in the current lack of global capacity for vaccine production and other health technologies, as well as in enabling their inequitable distribution.

The letter calls on the governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Norway, Switzerland and the European Union to drop their opposition at the World Trade Organisation and to support the TRIPS waiver proposal.

You can read the full letter and list of signatories here:

Panel Discussion on Intellectual Property Law Scholarship and Pedagogy 
in Times of Covid-19 Pandemic

Co-hosted by 
Center for Social Critiques of Law, Kent Law School and 

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

Graham Dutfield (Leeds)
Hyo Yoon Kang (Kent)
Fiona Macmillan (Birkbeck)
Luke McDonagh (LSE)
Aisling McMahon (Maynooth)
Alain Pottage (Kent/ SciencesPo)
Els Torreele (UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose) 

Traditionally IP law, and patent law in particular, had been regarded a legal technical and technocratic subfield. This panel discussion intends to review and discuss the state of the IP scholarship and pedagogy in light of the fissures within the field that have been laid bare at least since the so-called “TRIPS IP waiver” discussion. 

Over the course of the pandemic, issues around intellectual property law, especially regarding monopoly rights and trade secrets around the Covid-19 vaccine, have been problematised in general media. These have often centered around the ongoing battle for TRIPS IP waiver since October 2020. 

Amidst the ongoing discussions, intellectual property law and particularly patent law, have been catapulted into the public eye. After US threw in its limited support, there has been a divergence of perspectives on the Waiver proposal argued by IP scholars, both in favour and against the proposal and its significance. 

Diverse approaches to IP law and its purpose within the scholarship are not new. The current crystallisation of IP law’s current role in the prolonging of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, affords an apt opportunity to take review the scholarly field of of intellectual property law itself and its political and social role. 

The panel will discuss existing IP law scholarship and pedagogy, identifying their epistemological and ontological foundations, methodologies, and their relation to the current political economy. It will critically assess the past and present of the IP scholarly field and offer some thoughts for its improvement. 

Free registration:

Passim Workshop 2020


Call for Papers

We invite contributions to the workshop “Patents as Capital,” which forms the 2nd workshop of the ERC- funded project PASSIM (Patents as Scientific Information, 1895-2020), in collaboration with The International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property (ISHTIP).

Dates: 8-10 September 2020
Venue: Nobel Museum, Stockholm, SWEDEN
Call closes: 14 February 2020
Proposal format: 500 Word proposal/200 Word bio
Submit to:

Patents are regarded as central techniques and indicators of value in the ‘knowledge economy’ by linking immaterial knowledge to capital. In intellectual property scholarship, particularly that approaches law as economics or as a regulatory tool, patents are commonly studied as means of commercial and economic strategies. But this focus leaves out the other ways in which patents act as both instruments and representations of diverse kinds of capital: intellectual, cultural, scientific and financial capital(s). The concrete processes by which patents are implicated in and give rise to various practices of capitalisation and valuation remain relatively underexplored. Rather than equating patent with value, or presuming that patents generate intellectual capital, this workshop aims to examine and delineate the workings of patents as capital in their multiple manifestations: as personal privilege, scientific credit, cultural symbol, instrument of credibility and as financial proxies. These are only examples of the queries that we would like to discuss.We welcome cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary contributions that problematise and analyse the promises and failings of patents as capital and that study the role of patents in such capitalisation processes.

We will give preference to unpublished papers that seek substantive feedback from participants of the workshop. PASSIM will cover the travel and accommodation cost of the selected participants.

Any questions can be directed to the organizers of the workshop:

Björn Hammarfelt (
Gustav Källstrand (
Hyo Yoon Kang (

PASSIM is a five-year (2017-2022) project funded by an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant (741095) to Professor Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, Linköping University, Sweden, PASSIM focuses on the “openness” aspect of patents, considering their role as technoscientific documents in the history of information and intellectual property. For more information on the project and the team, send us an e-mail:, follow us on twitter @passimproject or visit our website

Details of last year’s PASSIM workshop can be found here.

Twelfth Annual ISHTIP Workshop

Please note: The 12th ISHTIP Annual Workshop will be held at Bournemouth University, UK, 12-16 July 2021.

This will be an online event.

More details and final program to come shortly.

The 13th workshop is now scheduled to be held at Gothenberg University in 2022.

12th Annual ISHTIP Workshop

Landmarks of Intellectual Property

Bournemouth University, UK 12-16 July 2021

Landmark noun, often attributive

land·mark | \ land-märk \

  1. An object (such as a stone or tree) that marks the boundary of land
  2. A conspicuous object on land that marks a locality (originally and esp. as a guide to sailors in navigation)
  3. An event or development that marks a turning point or a stage
  4. A structure (such as a building) of unusual historical and usually aesthetic interest especially: one that is officially designated and set aside for preservation

After hosting its annual workshop in 2019 in the location that is home to the largest natural harbour in the world, Sydney, the International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property will host its 12th annual workshop in the second largest natural harbour in the world: Poole, UK—home to Bournemouth University. This year’s theme, Landmarks of Intellectual Property, is inspired by its county Dorset, which is known for the Jurassic Coast, World Heritage Site on the English Channel southern coast of England, which stretches across 95 miles, and which features the natural limestone landmark Durdle Door.

The Landmarks workshop will explore the contemporary relevance of the landmarks of intellectual property. Proposals are invited to consider the different ways in which a place, a time, a personality, a case, or a particular year has become a landmark of IP. These might include challenging or questioning (the idea of) certain landmarks of IP; proposing new ones; or highlighting unsung ones, be they milestones, vantage points, beacons, breakthroughs, events, turning points, or anniversaries. Contributions may also critique dominant frameworks or theories, thus putting into perspective the significance of such turning points by highlighting the role of historical contingencies, discontinuities and cultural difference.

The final panel will be dedicated to the work of Prof Martha Woodmansee who founded ISHTIP in 2008, and who has recently retired.

The workshop is hosted by CIPPM / Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for European Intellectual Property and Information Rights, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Commission. Organising Committee: Maurizio Borghi, Claudy Op den Kamp, and Ruth Towse

PASSIM Workshop


The first workshop from the ERC-funded project PASSIM (Patents as Scientific Information, 1895- 2020), in collaboration with The International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property (ISHTIP).

 Dates: September 10-13, 2019 
Venue: Norrköping, SWEDEN   
Call closes: January 31, 2019 Acceptance by: February 15, 2019 
Proposal format: 500 Word proposal/200 Word bio 
 Submit to:

Research on copyright, patents and trademarks engage scholars across a wide spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. No longer reserved for law and legal scholarship, a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches now inform and drive interdisciplinary intellectual property scholarship.

Together with ISHTIP (the International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property, the ERC-funded project “Patents as Scientific Information, 1895-2020” (PASSIM) now invite proposals to its first workshop, “Intellectual Property for the Un-Discipline(d).” The goal of the workshop is to foster an innovative dialogue on the limits and possibilities of interdisciplinary intellectual property scholarship. In the “high-risk, high-gain” spirit of the ERC grants, we invite papers that creatively engage with intellectual property as research experience, that explore the dynamics of new and unexpected topics and perspectives, and that open up to self-reflexivity in respect to choices of material, methods, narration and (inter)disciplinary infidelities. We especially encourage submissions focused on the “doing of” intellectual property scholarship as boundary work, exploring the assumptions and challenges involved in your own research. Successful candidates (4-5 scholars) will have travel and lodging paid for by PASSIM and can expect to present their research in a stimulating and generous milieu, consisting not only of the PASSIM team but of specially invited, experienced researchers in the field: Fiona Macmillan (co-Director of ISHTIP, Birkbeck Law and Roma Tre); Gabriel Galvez-Behar (Economic History, Université de Lille); Evan Hepler-Smith (History of Science, Boston College) and Shobita Parthasarathy (Director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, University of Michigan). For more information about the call and funding scheme, please e-mail

PASSIM is a five-year (2017-2022) project funded by an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant (741095) to Professor Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, Linköping University, Sweden, PASSIM focuses on the “openness” aspect of patents, considering their role as technoscientific documents in the history of information and intellectual property. For more information on the project and the team, please visit

Workshop 2019 Call for Papers

Workshop 2019 Call for Papers

University of Technology Sydney, 4 – 6 July 2019

Registration and local details are available here.


  • Date for submission of proposals: *Deadline extended* 23 November 2018
  • Expected date for notification of acceptance:  21 December 2018
  • Date for submission of full papers: 1 June 2019

Intellectual Property and the Visual

“We entered and cast anchor, and in the morning went oh-ing and ah-ing in admiration up through the crooks and turns of the spacious and beautiful harbor – a  harbor which is the darling of Sydney and the wonder of the world.”

Mark Twain, Following the Equator

The International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property will hold its 11th annual workshop at the University of Technology Sydney on 4 – 6 July 2019. The city of Sydney is renowned for its spectacular natural setting and architectural landmarks. This year’s theme, Intellectual Property and the Visual, draws inspiration from its striking host city. The ‘visual turn’ in law has received growing attention in recent years from scholars exploring effects of the proliferation of images in social and legal spaces on the legal imagination. The 2019 workshop will explore aspects of the visual turn in the context of intellectual property law. Proposals for papers are invited to consider different ways in which the visual and the legal interact in relation to different fields of intellectual property law. These might include considering how intellectual property law treats visual subject matters, how subjects of intellectual property law or the law itself are represented or perceived, relationships between legal texts and images, the use of visual metaphors and images in the development of intellectual property law and interdisciplinary interactions with fields such as art history, visual studies, aesthetics, socio-legal and cultural studies.

Papers that address this call from an historical or theoretical perspective are welcomed from scholars working across the disciplines. Established and junior scholars are encouraged to submit papers and there will be a session devoted to presentations from doctoral students.  Proposers should be aware that authors (except for PhD students) do not present their own papers at ISHTIP workshops. Rather, a discussant presents a brief summary and critique of papers to facilitate a more general discussion. To allow this, complete papers must be submitted by 1 June 2019.

Proposals for papers should be no more than one page and accompanied by a 2 page CV. Submissions should be sent by email to

Date for submission of proposals: 23 November 2018

Expected date for notification of acceptance:  21 December 2018

Date for submission of full papers: 1 June 2019


2018 Pre-event Roundtable – Call for Papers

Call for Participation

Histories of Intellectual Property in Numerous Objects—Interdisciplinary Insights

University of Roma Tre, 3 July 2018

(Preceding main ISHTIP Workshop, 4-6 July)

We are pleased to announce a roundtable preceding the ISHTIP Workshop, based around the underlying idea of A History of Intellectual Property in 50 Objects (Cambridge University Press, 2018, forthcoming).

The book shows how objects and material culture can provide an approachable way to tell histories of intellectual property, focusing on 50 objects—including the Singer Sewing Machine, the Corset, the Football, the Barbie Doll, and the Post-it. The book presents intellectual property as an interdisciplinary topic, reflected in the remarkable diversity of backgrounds of the editors and authors, and the approaches used to tell the histories of these objects. With short textual entries and numerous images, the book is intended to be accessible to a wide range of readers—encompassing scholars and students in humanities, law, and social science, as well as legal practitioners, inventors, authors, and the interested reader of cultural histories.

Our roundtable will unpack some of these “IP objects,” and from them develop ideas of how we can best undertake interdisciplinary work on intellectual property. We have invited a range of contributors to present their objects and their entries in lightning talks. The roundtable will also provide the opportunity for a wider discourse on the benefits, challenges and risks of interdisciplinarity in intellectual property research.

We expect a deep and wide-ranging discussion. We invite you to join us, and welcome proposals of objects you’d like to discuss (and bring!) or particular themes/disciplines you’d like to examine. Early career researchers are specifically encouraged to express their interest. We think that the roundtable is going to be fun, and very fruitful.


Claudy Op den Kamp

Dan Hunter



Histories of Intellectual Property in Numerous Objects—Interdisciplinary Insights

University of Roma Tre

Via Ostiense, 161

00154 Rome


3 July 2018, at 3pm

Workshop 2018 Call for Papers

Annual ISHTIP Workshop

University of Roma Tre, 4-6 July 2018

 Call for Papers

Intellectual Property and Heritage

2018 marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of ISHTIP, which held its first workshop in the Stationers’ Hall in London in March 2008.  The Stationers Hall, with its special place in intellectual property law and history, seemed an appropriate place to kick off an interdisciplinary society with a particular focus on the interaction of those two disciplines.  Ten years on, ISHTIP has deepened its interdisciplinary engagement providing a forum for an array of new disciplinary and critical theoretical perspectives.  Influenced by the idea of reflecting on the heritage of ISHTIP itself, and inspired by its location in a city that has a special place in the canon of Western heritage, this year’s workshop invites proposals for papers on the relationship between forms of intellectual property and heritage.  The concept of heritage, despite being vaguely defined in law – or perhaps because of this – is part of a rhetorical moving feast in political and cultural discourse.  Not only does its apparent subject matter often overlap with the subject matter of intellectual property, it also shares many of the problematic tropes of intellectual property. These include, but are not limited to, matters such as its strongly occidental flavour located in an ordering of knowledge that claims to be universal, its apparently constitutive relationship with social understandings of concepts like culture and innovation, and its uncertain relationship with concepts of im/materiality and in/tangibility.  Like intellectual property, it is also characterised by the wide range of disciplinary perspectives that it has attracted. In other ways it is profoundly different.  One of the significant differences in the present context is that as an area of study it has, so far, been subject to less colonization by legal scholars. We hope, therefore, that this will generate a particularly rich interdisciplinary exchange in Rome in July 2018.

Proposals for papers that address this call from a historical or theoretically informed perspective are invited from scholars working across the disciplines.  Proposers should be aware that authors do not present their own papers at ISHTIP workshops. Instead, a commentator presents a brief summary and critique to initiate the general discussion of each paper.  This means that if a proposal is accepted then a written paper must be submitted by the date indicated below.

Proposals for papers should be no more than one page long, accompanied by a two page cv, and addressed to

Date for submission of proposals: 16 February 2018

Expected date for notification of acceptance: 2 March 2018

Written papers due: 1 June 2018

10TH ANNUAL WORKSHOP (2018), University of Roma Tre, Rome, Italy

University of Roma Tre, 4-6 July 2018

The annual workshop of ISHTIP in 2018 will be held at the School of Law, University of Roma Tre, Via Ostiense 161, 00154 Rome (4-6 July).  It will be jointly organised by the Department of Law – University of Roma Tre, ASK – Bocconi University, and the Department of Cultural Heritage Studies, University of Salerno.

The organisers will be Fiona Macmillan (Birkbeck, University of London), Lillà Montagnani (Bocconi University, Milan) and Giovanni Riccio (University of Salerno).

View the event programme: here

Call for Papers: here

Pre-event Rountable (3rd July) Call for Papers: here

Register for the Workshop

Use these links to sign up for the workshop and related events:

Local Hotel info

The following hotels are in walking distance from the University of Roma Tre:

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