The Patent and the Paper: a Few Thoughts on Late Modern Science and Intellectual Property


  • Eva Hemmungs Wirtén Department of Culture Studies – Tema Q, Linköping University, Sweden



academic publishing, patenting, intellectual property, Marie Curie


Marie and Pierre Curie’s decision not to patent the discovery (1898) and later isolation (1902) of radium is perhaps the most famous of all disinterested decisions in the history of science. To choose publishing instead of patenting and openness instead of enclosure was hardly a radical choice at the time. Traditionally, we associate academic publishing with “pure science” and Mertonian ideals of openness, sharing and transparency. Patenting on the other hand, as a byproduct of “applied science” is intimately linked to an increased emphasis and dependency on commercialization and technology transfer within academia. Starting from the Curies’ mythological decision I delineate the contours of an increasing convergence of the patent and the paper (article) from the end of the nineteenth-century until today. Ultimately, my goal is to suggest a few possible ways of addressing the hybrid space that today constitute the terrain of late modern science and intellectual property.


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Theme: Publishing for Public Knowledge