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Constructing the “pure” inventor: individual, collective, and corporate authorship within patent law

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This paper details how patent law purifies “the” inventing subject of big science while simultaneously disqualifying others from patent eligibility for practicing a similar form of collective authorship. The author begins by detailing what is known as the romantic author trope - the assumption within (Western) patent law that invention is the product of one (versus many). The romantic author trope, however, runs counter to the (collective) inventive process in developing countries. Yet this raises the question: are not the inventions of global capital collective in nature? To understand how the collective nature of invention becomes masked by patent law I introduce the idea of corporate authorship. The paper concludes by making visible the inventive assemblages that make the patentable artifacts of big science possible.
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Keywords: Latour; actor network theory; author; biotechnology; patent law; political economy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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