Upcoming Talks and Events in June & July 2021


14 June

Engineering Vaccine Equity Workshop
University College London and King’s College London

Co-convened by Andrew Barry & Paige Patchin (Anthropocene/Sarah Parker Remond Centre/Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL) and Nele Jensen & Ann H. Kelly (Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, KCL)

15 June

Open Public Event: Roundtable on Engineering Vaccine Equity and the Future of Global Health Innovation
UCL Anthropocene

What changes need to happen both to reduce the threat of pandemics on a similar scale, and to address the problem of vaccine equity?

Roundtable: Gustavo Matta (Fiocruz), Priti Patnaik (Geneva Health Files), Penny Carmichael (UCL), Hyo Yoon Kang (University of Kent), Andrew Barry (UCL) and Paige Patchin (UCL)

16 June

Open Public Event: Law On Trial – Pharmaceutical Patents And Pandemics: Public Health And Private Wealth?
Birkbeck, University of London

16 June 2021, 18:00 — 19:00


1 July 2021
5pm – 6:30pm GMT

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

Hosted by Center for Social Critiques of Law, Kent Law School, University of Kent

More details TBA


9 June 2021

Amnesty International Passau: ‘Patents on Covid-19 Vaccines: A need for state intervention?’

IP, vaccine nationalism in Covid-19 pandemic: short writing, pod, interview

I have been following issues relating to intellectual property in this pandemic closely since the proposal by Costa Rica to pledge sharing all Covid-19 related knowledge and IP in March 2020. This was the seed for the later C-TAP facility hosted by the WHO in May. This prescient Costa Rica intiative was sidelined by COVAX and other bilateral deal makings by individual governments. In September 2020, India and South Africa proposed a waiver on IP, incl. trade secrets, on medicines and technologies against Covid-19, for the duration of the pandemic. After over a year since the start of this global pandemic, the TRIPS waiver is still being discussed and resisted by a handful of countries and their pharmaceutical lobbies, although much of public opinion has moved. After the initial PPE shortage, there has been constant stream of news about vaccines, bilateral deals, vaccine shortage, production problem, export restrictions and the resistance to scale-up production.

Throughout this pandemic time, it has been challenging to engage in research as if nothing had happened and as if we were thinking and writing like in pre-pandemic times. Maybe it will be possible to have more distance to the sheer amount of dead and suffering when the pandemic is over, and make better sense of the past year. At the moment, I don’t have much appetite to engage in a second-order observation of an evolving situation. There are still battles ongoing about who gets to live or die, or who doesn’t count because of their statistical improbability or the social and geographical location they happen to live in and are bound by. If there is one early diagnosis and intervention that I can underwrite is that designed global structural inequities are manifesting their lethal force in the number of infections and dead, both endonationally as well as internationally.

The little contribution that I can make at this point is to offer partial perspectives on the evolving situation against the background of patent law history and theory, as well as history of sciences and STS. I hope that they may be interesting to the general public who wonder why the global intellectual property law works in the way it does and why universities engage in patenting and spin-offs.

In February, I wrote a long-form article of how intellectual property law enables vaccine nationalism for Critical Legal Thinking Blog.

In March, I had the pleasure to talk with Matthew Dagher-Margosian for The Art of Travel, a podcast with an internationalist outlook, for a pod on IP Law, monopolies and why we still don’t have a Peoples’ Vaccine .

This month, April, Geneva Health Files’s Priti Patnaik interviewed me about the financialisation of IP, the politics of intellectual property law and the TRIPS waiver for medicines and technologies against the Covid-19. You can find the interview here.

In May, I will be in conversation with the historian of science and legal scholar, Mario Biagioli, and anthropologist and STS scholar, Javier Lezaun, to discuss patent capital(ism) and the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to notions of private/public dichotomy, patent justifications and the idea of the commons. You can register for it here.

The need for a concerted action on TRIPS waiver, lifting export restrictions and the sharing of know-how for increased vaccine production has never been greater.

Patents as Capital in the Covid-19 Pandemic

May 4 BST 10am/CET 11am/Pacific 2am/EST 5am/ AEST 7pm

‘Patent Capital in the Covid-19 Pandemic’, Hyo Yoon Kang (Kent) in conversation with Mario Biagioli (UCLA) and Javier Lezaun (Oxford)

In the present pandemic, there has been increased public interest and media reporting on intellectual property, in particular patents and know-how, in relation to the vaccine and other medicines against Covid-19. The WTO is still considering the proposed waiver of TRIPS related enforcement of intellectual property rights in Covid-19 medicines. Such an interest in the purpose and effects of patent rights has also been accompanied by some misunderstandings and misleading polemics.

Drawing on her recent writing about ‘Patent Capital in the Covid-19 Pandemic’ as a starting point, Hyo Yoon Kang will be in conversation with Mario Biagioli and Javier Lezaun. In light of the current extraordinary mobilisation of scientific, technical and financial resources, the panel will discuss the justification for patents and the notions of commons and publics, and consider them within the interdisciplinary intellectual property, science and technology studies scholarships.

Hyo Yoon Kang is Reader in Law at University of Kent. She leads Kent Law School as a project partner in the ERC PASSIM project.

Mario Biagioli is Distinguished Professor of Law and Communication at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is a member of the ISHTIP Advisory Board.

Javier Lezaun is Associate Professor in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and Director of the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society (InSIS) at the University of Oxford.

To join this discussion: please register at : https://kent-ac-uk.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0lfuquqzksGtaKyphz9JK5z-sVY4I1LyBr

Patents as Capital (CfP)

I am  coorganising  workshop on the theme of ‘patents as capital’ at the Nobel Museum as part of the PASSIM project together with Bjorn Hammarfelt and Gustav Kaellstrand. The call for paper is below and it closes on 14 February 2020. Capital is conceived in a broad way: not only economic and finacial, but also in cultural and scientific senses.  It should be an intensive working group meeting in an inspiring setting. Please contact me if you have any questions.CfP PASSIM patents as capital workshop

Listening in the carbon majors inquiry hearings

Today was the last day of the hearings of the Philippine Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into the responsibility of major carbon emitting companies for human rights violations in response to a petition filed by a group of Filipino citizens and civil rights organizations.

I was sitting in the hearings yesterday and today in the LSE moot court room, which was packed to the brim. My interest was mainly in law-science transposition, particularly in arguments about scientific attribution and legal causation in the framework of ‘scales’, which was the topic of an earlier workshop that I had organised: since the publication of Richard Heede’s 2014 report about tracing back anthropogenic carbondioxide and methane emission to major carbon producing companies, there have been attempts to link questions of legal accountability to such attribution of emission through litigation.  Interestingly, as Dr Myles Allen, the co-author of the 2018 IPCC Report of 1.5 degrees, has also noted today, there has been no dispute about the scientific validity and truth value of ‘science’. ‘Science’ and its methodology was left very much untested or unopened by the Commission.

The expert and witness opinions also made me think of the heterogenous elements which materialise ‘law’: location of the hearings (New York, London, and live streamed archived in the www); technologies of bringing the matter together; issues of law’s mobility, mobilisation of networks; the discursive construction of legal matters, which have the ability to materialise something which is not visible, such as global warming; the difficulty of establishing a legal matter despite real, physical, material harm as told in the powerful testimonies of typhoon survivors. There were also simultaneous fluidity and disclaimer brackets between disciplinary expertise.

Concise info and timeline of this ‘law in the making’ is here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/news/the-carbon-majors-inquiry-comes-to-london/

Currently reading and writing…

… for a new piece on a non-patent and non-science (although different media formats remain important) topic which I had been fascinated by five years ago until the uni workload took over and I could not continue. This time I will finish it. The paper proposal was selected for inclusion to be discussed at the ISHTIP in Rome in July, so having a deadline helps. It is going to analyse compositional practices in (classical) music and argue for an understanding of creativity as a homage and malleable, inverted tradition. I came to this topic by being introduced to Richard Beaudoin, a composer, through Alain Pottage back then. Richard composes music as beautiful as it is intellectually intricate and technologically multi-layered and sophisticated.  Meeting over a coffee and talking about copyright and music, I was struck when he said that when he was composing his Microtiming pieces, he was paying homage to past composers (e.g. Debussy) and great performers (Argerich). Inspired by Richard’s rich yet delicate compositions and the baroque inversions and references in Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia, I will explore the notions of homage, indebtedness, tradition and inheritance in relation to property.  It makes me very happy to reconnect to my old me and musical life, which I had not been able to somehow integrate into my academic work. Reading and thinking about scores and words at the same time, and listening: an analytical and emotional homecoming.

ASLCH 2018 Programme at Georgetown Law is available now

I am serving as the chair of this year’s programme committee of the Association of Law,Culture and Humanities Annual Meeting at Georgetown Law in March 2018. Doing the programming was a labour of patience and perseverance which I could not have done without my colleague, Connal Parsley, who is serving with me on this year’s LCH annual meeting programme committee and his wonderful partner, Rossella Buono, who hosted and fed me on the dark winter night whilst we were waging through piles of paper. Reading through the rich variety of paper and panel submissions, thinking of their fit, and devising panel names were the most rewarding parts of the task.  Clicking, copy and pasting data from google mail into word and spreadsheet – probably involving thousand clicks  – were less fun. Solving the puzzle of equating two digit number restraints and conditions for timetabling was a challenge I enjoyed. But after this experience, in which I learned how much it actually takes to organise such a large-scale event, it made me appreciate and be really really grateful for all the hard work of many people behind the scene for making such big meetings happen and make it look so facile.

Here is version 2.0 of the draft programme.

And many of us from the Legal Materiality research network will be there, talking about our work.

ERC PASSIM Patents as Scientific Information Project kicks off

I am looking out to beautiful snowy landscape and roofs in Norrkoeping  hosted by the formidable Eva Hemmungs Wirten of Linkoeping University, kicking off the ERC PASSIM ‘Patents as Scientific Information’ Advanced Grant Project (website: passim.se  – scheduled to go live very soon).

We are here for three days discussing our individual projects, the overall direction and events for the next five years, and all the number of questions and issues that arise in the context of running a large scale project such as this one.

There will be nine projects as part of PASSIM: overall PI’s Eva Hemmungs Wirten’s lead project on ‘Patent Trails: The Law and Order of Information’; my colleague at Kent Law School and copyright afficianado, Jose Bellido‘s project on ‘Copyright in Patents’; Bjoern Hammarfelt‘s (Boras University) ‘Patents and the Invention of Scientific Citations,’ a study of the knowledge relationship between information science and patents; and the Nobel Museum’s Gustav Kallstrom‘s project on Patents and the Nobel Prize.
At our ‘home base’, Linkoeping University Norrkoeping Campus, Johanna Dahlin‘s examination of ‘Soviet patents and Secrecy’ and Martin Fredriksson‘s project on ‘Patents as Global (In)Justice’, Mattis Karlsson, a PhD student at Linkoeping University’s  Department for Studies of Social Change and Culture, as well as the recruitment of a new PhD student, complete our team.

The open welcome, style of consultation and hospitality by our Swedish team members have been striking, it is such a privilege and pleasure to be here.