Post Conference Round-up – the 2022 Symposium on Contemporary Issues in Global Studies

On 12 and 13 September the 2022 Symposium on Contemporary Issues in Global Studies was held at the Arbetes Museum in Norrköping, organised by Marc Stuhldreier and Martin Fredriksson of Linköping University. The Symposium was funded and supported as a collaborative project between the department of Culture and Society at Linköping University and the project PASSIM, with funding from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. The theme of the symposium was focussed on the intersection between ‘Intellectual Property, Technology, Culture and Health’.

One of the main objectives of this symposium was to not only to find a connection between academic research and undergraduate teaching, but to further establish a forum, bringing together academia with activists as well as multinational non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations working in this field. This was of particular importance to the organisers as in the intersection between intellectual property, health and human rights, ground-breaking work that leads to effective change is conducted by activities outside academia supported by the work of these organisations. To provide this forum, one of the key aspects of the symposium was to provide space for networking and exchange between the group of presenters, attendees, and students. The symposium was divided into four panels with 10 presenters, a Keynote address, and a spotlight presentation, followed by a workshop/roundtable discussion.

Starting the first day, panel 1 can be summarised as addressing scientific progress in the health sector and its accessibility for the communities most in need. The connection between the presentations in this panel was seen in highlighting political issues concerning geographical distance, as in the difference between local and global, but also specifically the role of a UN committee as a potential global body stepping up for the protection of human rights. Starting the presentations, Emmanuel Oke of the University of Edinburgh addressed the ‘Localisation, Local Working Requirements, and the Local Production of Medicines (and Vaccines)’. The presentation was followed by Vitor Ido from the South Centre addressing Global intellectual Property and Geopolitics, focussing on Public Health, Artificial Intelligence and Biodiversity. The third presentation in this penal was given by Jennifer Sellin from Maastricht University, focussing more directly on human rights, addressing the Right to Benefit from Scientific Progress and Access to Medicines, exploring the role of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The second was then a little more loosely themed around creation, ownership, and culture. In particular, the link between the presentations can be seen in their focus on the digital world and questions concerning how intellectual property and access rights can be balanced in our digital, data driven world today and in the future. The panel started with a presentation by Nadia Naim from Aston University Birmingham on Artificial Intelligence Creations and Ownership and the question of who the Intellectual Property should belong to when a work is created by an artificial intelligence. This was followed by Fatmanur Cebeci Corum from Swansea University exploring “Geo-Blocking” for Copyright Protected Contents and the Cultural Aspects of this Practice. As a PhD student, this was Fatmanur’s first conference presentation, and we are quite happy that we could provide this forum for her to deliver a great presentation that was well received.

The first day of the conference ended with the Keynote address provided by Graham Dutfield from the University of Leeds with the title ‘The Beyond Intellectual Property Moment in Historical Context’. The presentation concerned questions going beyond intellectual property in the sense that much of the international debate on indigenous rights today is focussed on intellectual property while there are several other obstacles faced by indigenous communities that to this day are still oftentimes neglected in ongoing debates. Graham provided particular insights into the life and work conducted by Darrell Posey with indigenous communities, and also highlighted issues connected to the five-century old foundation of international law that was aimed at colonising the then so-called “new world” through practices of dispossession.

The second day of the symposium started with panel 3, addressing the tragedy of war, and how the suffering of civil society may be further worsened by intellectual property protection and secrecy. First in this panel was Olga Gurgula of Brunel University with her presentation titled ‘Saving Ukrainian Lives during the Russian War: Ukraine Must Waive IP Rights under Article 73 TRIPS to Provide Access to Essential Medicines’. This was followed by a more historic view provided by Adam Bisno, the historian of the United States Patent and Trademarks Office, looking at the development of Penicillin and how patents and the Restriction of Scientific Information during World War II impacted its utilisation for saving lives. In the discussions on the presentation, it was considered what we can learn from the historic experience when we try to improve the current system for the future.

The fourth panel of the symposium was then broadly focussed on the question of whether the current intellectual property regime is even fit for its very own purpose. The panel started with Hu Yuanqiong from Médecins Sans Frontières addressing the difference between the voluntary and compulsory licensing of intellectual property and access to medicines in the global context, questioning whether the current mechanisms are fit for the purpose. This was followed by Fatima Hassan from the Health Justice Initiative in South Africa who joined us virtually to elaborate on the not fit for purpose global IP system. In particular, Fatima addressed the crucial question of why IP laws are barriers, and not enablers to life-saving access in a pandemic. The final presentation in this panel was provided by Frantzeska Papadopoulou of Stockholm University shifting the focus to regulatory rights for pharmaceuticals and the exchanging of safety and exclusivity, assessing what the impacts of these other types of exclusive rights are on the accessibility of pharmaceuticals.

The afternoon then began with the final spotlight presentation of the symposium provided by Sophie Bloemen from The Commons Network, exploring Biomedical Innovation and systemic change addressing the question of what biomedical innovation could look like in a new economy.

The conference closed with a workshop/roundtable discussion in which Vitor Ido, Hu Yuanqiong, and Sophie Bloemen provided insights into the work of their respective organisations. We discussed the meaning of activism and what the personal experience is when dedicating your work to striving for change on the international stage.

As organisers, we want to express our sincere gratitude to the presenters and attendees for making this symposium such a successful and memorable event. We look forward to future opportunities that evolve from this symposium and the new and renewed connections established at the networking events. With this in mind, we also want to thank the funders for making the organisation of this event possible.

Marc & Martin



We are happy to announce that the call to our final workshop is open!

“Patent Futures: A History,” is the fourth and final workshop of the ERC-funded project “Patents as Scientific Information, 1895-2020,” ( in collaboration with The International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property (ISHTIP

Dates: April 26-28, 2023.
Venue: Mundaneum, Mons, Belgium.
Call closes: November 15, 2022.
Proposal format: 500 Word proposal/200 Word bio.
Submit to:

Full call for papers in pdf: Call Mundaneum workshop

PASSIM will cover the travel and accommodation cost of the selected participants. Come and meet the entire PASSIM team and our special invitees: David Pretel, Assistant Professor of History and Economic Institutions, Autonomous University of Madrid; Katarina Nordqvist, Associate Professor and Head of Section, Swedish Ministry of Education and Research. Follow us on twitter @passimproject as we announce more invited commentators!

Any questions can be directed to the organizers of the workshop:
Jesper Alkarp
Isabelle Strömstedt
Johan Larson Lindal


Tema Q and PASSIM Seminar featuring Kathy Bowrey: “David Unaipon as inventor: Decolonising stories of innovation and patent.”

We are delighted to have Kathy Bowrey visit Tema Q as a special guest on behalf of PASSIM. Dr Kathy Bowrey is a Professor in the Faculty of Law, UNSW, Sydney. She is a legal historian and socio-legal researcher whose research explores laws and practices that inform knowledge creation and the production, distribution and reception of technology and culture. Her primary expertise relates to intellectual property, information technology regulation, regulatory theory, media practice, business history, feminist scholarship and a concern for Indigenous rights.

June 16, 13:15-15:30 Tema Q and PASSIM Seminar featuring Kathy Bowrey: “David Unaipon as inventor: Decolonising stories of innovation and patent.” (Tvärsnittet and Zoom)

About the seminar: David Unaipon descendant Kym Kropinyeri lived with his uncle David Unaipon, an Aboriginal man described as the Australian Leonardo De Vinci and featured on the $50 note. Mr Kropinyeri approached Professor Bowrey with doubts and questions about standard accounts of the inventor’s life and in particular, about his much celebrated 1909 shearing patent. Why did Unaipon fail to benefit from this patent or indeed from any of his other numerous inventions? The family understood that the shearing invention was taken by Cooper Engineering/Sunbeam without recompense. This research was based upon a Research Fellowship at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Australia and as a Visiting Scholar at the State Library of New South Wales. It draws upon archival material about mechanical sheep-shearing, Cooper Engineering and patent office files, moving from a conventional account of technological innovation that link the story of stand-alone objects to exceptional individuals, to better connect Unaipon’s invention to Aboriginal accounts of survival and opportunity.



Kathy Bowrey website:
PASSIM website: 
Twitter: @PASSIMproject
Questions and registry:

Christoph Rodrigo de la Torre Presentation: Patenting Atomic Vision [video]

”At exactly what point does a drawing turn into a patent drawing?” This was one of the challenging questions posed by Christoph Rodrigo de la Torre as he presented his paper on the early visual recapitulation of nuclear bomb explosions. These explosions were long believed to resist capture, but they eventually were through a device called the stroboscope, patented in the 1930s. Christoph’s talk also brought to the fore the patent drawing, having emerged as a standard way of visualizing inventions in patent applications after patent models had been abandoned.

The stroboscope was designed to capture microseconds of nuclear explosions, serving as both a documentation of nuclear technology and a form of detachment from the actual destruction resulting from that technology. Christoph conveyed how patents were and still are not only scientific documents but also a literary and visual genre with a certain level of materiality. At the same time, patent drawings such as the stroboscope adhered to a specific logic and a reductionist aesthetic standard. Christoph illustrated how patent drawings had become a profession by, at least, the 1940s, with its own instruction books. At the same time, the legal framework surrounding the use of patent drawings suggests an interesting legislative relationship between word and image that requires further study in the future.

Investigating the stroboscope’s history further ties into more general insights from the history of photographic technology, such as the early impulse of this medium to reduce visual ‘noise’, to slow down events, and to detach objects from their context, stripping them of excessive detail and rendering them entities of singular interest. As a further demonstration on how this patented-visualised technique actually worked, fascinating and ominous at the same time, Christoph showed a few short video sequences of nuclear explosions created with the aid of the stroboscope.

The following discussion emphasized, among other themes, the inventor as not only creator of devices, but as an artistic agent as well, challenging a binary opposition between copyright and patents. Another topic was the emergence of a visual language in patents as a system for representing the functional and invisible. Another relevant medium closely connected to the stroboscope was of course early film and its (mass) production of objects of desire.



Christoph Rodrigo de la Torre is a PhD candidate in Art History, Theory and Criticism at University of California, San Diego.

Video by LiU communications officer Per Wistbo Nibell. Text by Johan Larson Lindal who also chaired the event.

Jocelyn Bosse Presentation: Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe: On the Development of Secret Patents [video]

In her talk, Jocelyn Bosse discussed the apparent paradox of secret patents. The very existence of secret patents would seem to contradict the so-called patent bargain of a temporary monopoly in exchange for disclosure. The patent bargain is frequently used as a justification of the patent system, and a secret patent would then be something of a contradiction in terms. However, the use of secrecy orders, in the name of national interest, can impose secrecy on a patent at any point, even after it has been granted. However, the secrecy is not total, but the patents continue to circulate in some contexts. One way to approach this problem is to view secret patents as exceptions, but Jocelyn’s talk showed that secrecy orders are a quite permanent feature of the patent regime.

Secret patents in three countries were discussed: UK, US and the Soviet Union. In all these countries, invention secrecy regimes aroused in the mid-twentieth century. The Soviet Union was the first jurisdiction to establish a permanent mechanism for patent secrecy (which also included the inventor’s certificate, sometimes presented as a socialist alternative to patents). In all countries, measures to impose secrecy were shaped by the allegiances and hostilities of the time, including espionage affairs.

Jocelyn’s conclusion was that it is unhelpful to view secret patens as an oxymoron, but that secret patents rather should be viewed in light of the general role of patents in controlling the circulation of scientific and technical information.

The discussion to a large extent focused on the patent bargain and to what extent it is a good point of departure to understand secret patents, and if it indeed is useful for understanding the patent system. It also concerned how secrecy orders work in practice, what happens for instance with technologies that have both military and civilian use, and how are secret patents handled in international cooperation. The importance of secrecy as a signal was also discussed.

Jocelyn Bosse is a PhD student at University of Queensland Law School, she lectures at Kings College, London,

Video by LiU communications officer Per Wistbo Nibell. Text by Johanna Dahlin who also chaired the event.