PASSIMer of the month (Björn)

In my work I am interested in how things are valued, measured and categorized. In recent years I have primarily been focused on the evaluation of academic outputs like papers and patents. In disciplinary terms, my research can be situated at the intersection of information studies and sociology of science with a focus on scholarly communication and bibliometrics.

Currently, I work as an associate professor in Library and Information Science at the University of Borås where I act as a leader for a research group on Knowledge Infrastructures. Prior to this I spent three years as a postdoc at Leiden University and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS). My PhD was awarded at Uppsala University for a thesis on how bibliometrics and citation analysis can be used for mapping and evaluating the humanities. It was also at Uppsala where I first got to know Eva Hemmungs Wirtén and we have cooperated in various project since. Hence, I had no doubts when Eva asked me to join PASSIM (although I knew very little about patents). Through my involvement in PASSIM I have learned a lot about patents, but equally important the project has been a great opportunity for interdisciplinary exchange in a colloquial and friendly atmosphere. Therefore, I really hope that the PASSIM-team can meet – outside Zoom – soon again, and I really look forward to our planned workshops on Patents as Capital, and Patents in War and Peace. Considering my own work, I will continue to study patents and their role as science indicators – a first paper was published earlier this year  – and the role of patents in the scientific information industry. But first some long-awaited vacation, which I will spend with my family (its latest addition being a ragdoll kitten) in the garden, in the woods of Småland, and by a lake or the sea. Certainly, I will also find time to watch a “few” games of football from the European Championship.

 

 

For more on patents in the scientific information industry (or possibly football outrage?) follow Björn on twitter.

New PASSIM article: “India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library and the Politics of Patent Classifications” by Martin Fredriksson

 

Martin Fredriksson is associate professor at the unit for Culture and Society Linköping University and a member of the PASSIM project team. In this recent article Martin analyses India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) as a potential intervention in the administration of patent law.

Martin’s article concludes that the major database on the one hand bridges the gap between the main branches of Indian traditional medicine and the formal knowledge system of International Patent Classifications. Furthermore, it has also inspired revisions of the International Patent Classification system, which makes it better adapted to incorporate traditional medical knowledge. On the other hand, critical research on traditional knowledge documentation argues that traditional knowledge databases, like the TKDL, can decontextualize the knowledge they catalogue and dispossess its original owners. The TKDL, however, also fits into a national, Indian agenda of documenting and modernizing traditional medicine that predates the formation of the TKDL by several decades and challenges the dichotomy between traditional and scientific knowledge systems that originally motivated the formation of the TKDL.

You can read more about Martin’s work in PASSIM on the blog and the article is available in Law and Critique.

 

From left to right: José Bellido, Johanna Dahlin, Martin Fredriksson and Björn Hammarfelt.

Post seminar: Patents on Display and Methods of Exhibition Analysis

 

 

Yesterday PASSIM held a seminar online. PASSIM’s own Isabelle Strömstedt discussed a narrative approach to exhibition analysis that focuses on how documents can be displayed. Isabelle’s dissertation concerns the exhibition “Idé – Patent – Produkt” (Idea – Patent – Product) by the Swedish Patent Office. Annika Öhrner was invited as a guest speaker. Öhrner is Associate Professor in Art History at Södertörn University. She discussed Methods in Exhibition Analysis. Annika opened the seminar with an informative overview of art history and then explored examples of exhibition analysis in recent dissertations.

The seminar was an excellent example of how benefiting interdisciplinary conversations can be. The resonance between the two speakers was crystal clear and I know for a fact that it was greatly inspiring for Isabelle.

PI Eva Hemmungs Wirtén expressed that in less testing times than the current we would have been able to express our gratitude to Annika over a glass of vine or a post seminar dinner. Unfortunately that will have to be rain-checked, but we are grateful.

As Eva concluded in an earlier post here on our blog, the pandemic has meant that we must do things a little bit different if we are to keep momentum throughout these times.

Yesterday’s seminar was an example of at least one upside with online seminars as a handful of scholars joined the seminar from abroad and very much contributed to the discussion after the presentations.

On behalf of the PASSIM team I would like to thank everyone for their participation.

A recording of the seminar will be published on our website shortly:   https://liu.se/en/research/passim

Best,

Mattis Karlsson, PASSIM RA

Upcoming Seminar: Patents on Display and Methods of Exhibition Analysis (Tuesday, 1 December 2020 13.15-15.00: CET)

 

PASSIM holds seminar on Patents on Display and Methods of Exhibition Analysis, December 1, 2020.

 

About the Seminar:

In this seminar organized by PASSIM we present a broad introduction to exhibition analysis methods and a focused analysis on patents on display. Speakers are Annika Öhrner, Södertörn University and Isabelle Strömstedt, Linköping University.  Online participation open for everyone and free of charge. You will be able to ask our speakers questions in real-time during the seminar. We encourage you to invite friends or colleagues by sharing this information. The seminar is chaired by PASSIM PI Eva Hemmungs Wirtén. For more information and updates see our twitter @passimproject

Analysis of exhibitions has been present in disciplines of cultural history for some time; however, in recent scholarship, it seems to have gained renewed theoretical interest. While curatorial studies has emerged within the art field and higher art education since the 1990s, the nascent theoretical field of exhibition analysis is dealing with critical approaches to history. In these contexts, the exhibition is sometimes viewed as a media. While focusing on matters of method, the seminar intends to inspire further reflections on the exhibition as historical document and research object.

In Methods in Exhibition Analysis Annika Öhrner presents some theoretical voices in the field before exploring examples of exhibition analysis in recent dissertations in Art History and its neighbouring disciplines. The exhibition – the art exhibition and industrial exhibitions, the World Exhibitions, the more or less “permanent” displays at the national and regional history museum, etcetera – offers a rich and dense research object. Instead, as when working with a singular object or artifact, or with the producer and the audience, the scholar studying the exhibition as a spatial unit is offered a more complex and fruitful research object, allowing viewing history from different points of departure.

In Patents on Display Isabelle Strömstedt introduces her thesis about the exhibition Idé – Patent – Produkt (Idea – Patent – Product) by the Swedish Patent Office. She presents a narrative approach to exhibition analysis with a focus on displayed documents. By looking at the patents displayed in the exhibition, it becomes clear how they extended both the exhibition’s story-time and story-space.

From the exhibition Amerikansk popkonst. 106 former av kärlek och förtvivlan, Moderna Museet, 1964. ©Moderna Museet, ill. from, Art in transfer in the Era of Pop. Curatorial Practicies and Transnational Strategies, Södertörn University, 2017.

Speakers:

Annika Öhrner Associate Professor in Art History and Director of Doctoral Studies in Art History at Södertörn University. Her research is directed towards critical historiography, cultural transfer and museum- and exhibitions studies. She is also an exhibition curator.

Isabelle Strömstedt PhD Candidate at the Department of Culture and Society, Linköping University.  She is currently working on her thesis preliminary titled The Patent Office on Display: Intellectual Property in the Public Eye.

When and where: 

This information as pdf: Patents on Display and Methods of Exhibition Analysis

Zoom link: https://liu-se.zoom.us/j/69009983664

Time: Tuesday, 1 December 2020 13.15-15.00: CET

Welcome!

Interdisciplinary Reflections on ‘Patents as Capital’ with Erkan Gürpınar

 

This blog post is the third and final part in a PASSIM blog series where invited scholars reflect on patents as capital from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Dr Erkan Gürpınar is Assistant Professor in Economics at the University of Ankara. His disciplinary background is in Economics (BSc, Msc Middle East Technical University & PhD Univ. of Siena) and Development Studies (MSc Uppsala University). During his PhD, he was a visiting researcher at the Centre of Development Studies of the University of Cambridge between 2011-2012.

His website can be found here: https://eb.asbu.edu.tr/en/staff/dr-ogr-uyesi-erkan-gurpinar

 

 

1. why do you study patents?

I study patents because they affect and shape the organizational structure of knowledge-based economies at micro and macro levels. Modern economies are knowledge-intensive, and we have seen a dramatic increase in the importance of knowledge as a means of controlling production. The accumulated knowledge about methods employed in production processes is of utmost importance. Patents, and in a broader sense, intellectual property rights are central elements for the organization of production within such knowledge based economies. They have the power to (partially) determine who owns – hence controls – the usage of accumulated techniques and knowledge of any community. Patent regimes have long lasting effects on production organization at the local as well as international level, for example developed vs developing nations, employers vs employees, multinationals vs SMEs. Moreover, the extension of patents to the realm of basic knowledge and public research is a relatively novel development that has implications for production organization and the future of open science and universities.

 

2. how do you understand patents as capital?

Traditionally in economics, capital has been treated as a physical phenomenon. Economic theory does not try to explain the history (and evolution) of capital as a concept. Patents, and intellectual property in general, are indicative of the limits that such a narrow approach to the theory of capital entails. An alternative understanding of capital goes beyond physical equipment and tangible assets, and includes intangible assets and immaterial wealth as legitimate parts of the definition of capital. Indeed, the obsession with tangibles in the definition of capital is historically rooted in the rise of industrial societies, in which the possession and utilization of material wealth are central to the organization of production. The classical division between capitalists and workers rest on this fact. Today, such an analysis is incomplete. Immaterial wealth is even more important in some leading sectors, such as information and communication technology and biotechnology.

Patents as capital should be understood in its historical context. Intangible assets are crucial parts of the production process. Although economics now embraces some of the conceptual developments of capital (e.g. human capital), economic theory overlooks the tacit character of useful knowledge and the legal disputes surrounding it. In economics, capital as knowledge cannot be understood properly without taking into account its legal, historical and organizational dimensions.

 

3. how does your work relate to this understanding?

In line with Thorstein Veblen, I argue that the term capital should be defined by observation rather than by deduction. Modern economies, at least in the developed world, are knowledge- intensive. Therefore control over useful (workplace) knowledge is important for managerial reasons. Such a control, in turn, has an effect on the distribution of income across different groups in society. An analysis of such an immaterial wealth cannot be confined to human capital, since it is embedded in organizational structure of firms. Immaterial wealth will be local and ‘sticky’ depending on the choice of a firm’s different technologies, its legal environment, as well as country of operation. It is unevenly distributed across employees, firms, sectors and regions. Furthermore, the extension of intellectual property regime to the realm of basic science and public research is an example of how legal decisions affect the institutional structure within various economies. By extending Veblen’s approach to capital to knowledge-based economies, I propose to re-define the term capital to include patents, as well as trade secrets and restrictive (non-compete) covenants. The analysis could then be used to explain changes triggered by knowledge-based economies. By doing so, I hope to contribute to the debates on the successes and failures of high-tech sectors and clusters (e.g. Silicon Valley), the role of legal regulations on knowledge, their effects on economic growth, and the distributional and efficiency implications of alternative organizational structures in knowledge based economies.

 

4. what do you think are the benefits and drawbacks of studying patents from an interdisciplinary perspective?

Diverse disciplines, such as economics, law, history and management, have studied patents. Not dissimilar to other interdisciplinary debates on rationality and rational actor, there is not any consensus on the definition of the core concepts. This makes interdisciplinary exchange difficult. And yet, an interdisciplinary approach is unavoidable since only a holistic view on the origin, development and the current state of the patent system can help us avoid just-so stories about the relevance and efficiency of patent regimes. This requires an interdisciplinary exchange: while legal scholarship could shed light on the role of patent systems on technology and notions of innovation, historical analysis can point to the developments of important changes to the patent system in the last two centuries. Moreover, economics could analyze the efficiency of patent systems in relation to the challenges faced by knowledge-based economies. Last but not least, insights from the discipline of management could show why knowledge and its ownership via patent systems are vital elements in the organization of production, and why treating knowledge as mainly freely available information may be incomplete. Patents and other forms of intellectual property represent a battle ground for interest groups around the world. An interdisciplinary approach can help us to understand scale and scope of such an antagonism and also possibly derive policy implications for the knowledge-based economies of the future.

 

5. your questions to others in the workshop group (if there is anything you’d like others to comment or discuss)?

What do you think about the definition of capital in economics textbooks?

 

Would you like to comment on Erkan Gürpınar’s reflections? Please do so below or on twitter. @passimproject