Patents as Scientific Information 1895-2020 (PASSIM)

Old fashioned light bulbs.

A European Research Council Advanced Grant project 2017-2023.

ERC European Research Council


"Patents as Scientific Information, 1895-2020," (PASSIM) is a five-year project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement ERC-AdG-741095).

PASSIM's objective is to unpack the multifaceted relationships featured in the patent bargain, recombine them in unexpected and creative ways and develop from that conceptualization a new narrative of patents and intellectual property. Anchored in historical knowledge but designed to accommodate interdisciplinary dialogue on theory and method, PASSIM stretches across past, present, and even into future knowledge infrastructures. Tracing the longue durée of the dynamics of scientific information from the end of the nineteenth-century to the first decades of the twenty-first tells an untold story of the networks of people, artifacts and money that shaped the current knowledge infrastructure into its present form. Transgressing the traditional divide between the natural sciences and the humanities, PASSIM delivers an innovative new framework for understanding of how information is disseminated and used (or not), within contemporary knowledge infrastructures. 

The PI

PASSIM runs between October 1, 2017 and June 30, 2023 and is funded through an ERC Advanced Grant awarded to Professor Eva Hemmungs Wirtén at Linköping University, Sweden. Professor Hemmungs Wirtén is a recognized scholar in the international field of interdisciplinary intellectual property research and has published widely on the history of international copyright and the history and theory of the intellectual commons. Her latest book is Making Marie Curie: Intellectual Property and Celebrity Culture in an Age of Information (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and she is currently the Co-Director of ISHTIP (the International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property. A two-page abbreviated CV can be downloaded as PDF here.

Eva Hemmungs Wirtén

Photo credit: Anders Norderman


PASSIM will organize a number of activities during 2017-2023, activities that aim to expand our research and facilitate further collaboration with other networks and scholars working on intellectual property. 

In 2019, we hosted the first of the altogether tree workshops we have planned during the lifetime of the project. Intellectual Property for the Un-disciplined took place in Norrköping between September 10-12 and was devoted to an interdisciplinary dialogue on “doing”  intellectual property scholarship.

During 2020 and 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the PASSIM team to rethink and reschedule the project’s planned activities, resulting in workshop two, “Patents as Capital,” and workshop three, “Patents in the Service of War and Peace,” being organized as back-to-back events at Louis De Geer Konsert and Kongress in Norrköping between May 11-13 and May 17-18, 2022. The program can be downloaded here (PDF).

Our final event will be a symposium on the theme of “Patent Futures: A History” and will take place at our partner Mundaneum, Mons, Belgium, between April 26-28, 2023.

If you want to stay in touch with us and keep updated on activities, publications and other possible collaborations, please e-mail or follow us on twitter @passimproject.


Patent Futures: A History

Call for proposals to PASSIMS fourth and final workshop. A workshop on the past, present and future of patents.

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

Patents tend to be associated with progress, modernity, and future usefulness. At the same time, we know that they are profoundly contextual, situated in specific historical eras and traditions. Time and various temporalities therefore occupy crucial points of departure when researching the history of patents.

We now invite Ph.D. candidates or recent Ph.D.’s (degree awarded no earlier than during 2022) to submit proposals on topics that include but are not limited to: questions of memory and regimes of remembrance in the patent system; legal temporality in general, especially in relation to the construction of value and capital; efficiency and speed as elements of bureaucratic time inside the Patent Office.

In line with Otlet and LaFontaine’s Mundaneum legacy and their visionary work on knowledge circulation, we also invite contributions that focus on the visualization of patents and knowledge in general. Finally, we encourage submissions that consider the various formats and temporalities of patent records and/or engage critically with the archives and sources of interdisciplinary patent scholarship. 



  • (2022) Symposium on Contemporary Issues in Global Studies: ‘Intellectual Property, Technology, Culture and Health’. Co-organized with Tema Culture and Society (Tema Q) and the Global Studies Program with external funding provided by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, September 12-13. Program.

  • (2022) Workshop participation: the PASSIM team will be at the 13th Annual Workshop of the International Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property (ISHTIP), “Machines of Law and Intellectual Property as Legal Machinery”, organized by the University of Gothenburg between June 20-22, 2022. 

  • (2022) PASSIM workshops two and three [back-to-back]. Workshop two: “Patents as Capital,” May 11-13, and “Patents in the Service of War and Peace”, May 16–18, 2022. Norrköping. Program (PDF).

  • (2022) Article: Gustav Källstrand, “Science by Nobel Committee: Decision-making and Norms of Scientific Practice in the Early Physics and Chemistry Prizes,” British Journal for the History of Science. Published online, May 23. DOI
  • (2022) Article: Martin Fredriksson, “Balancing Community Rights and National Interests in International Protection of Traditional Knowledge: a Study of India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library,” Third World Quarterly (43) 2, 352-370.

  • (2021) Article: Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, “In the Service of Secrecy: An Enveloped History of Priority, Proof and Patents,” Journal of Material Culture (26) 3, 241-261.

  • (2021) Article: Martin Fredriksson, “India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library and the Politics of Patent Classifications,” Law and Critique.

  • (2021) Online Seminar, jointly arranged with ISHTP: “Cultural Heritage and IP”, Fiona Macmillan (Birkbeck) in conversation with Jose Bellido (Kent) and Kathy Bowrey (UNSW). Chair: Eva Hemmungs Wirtén. May 20.

  • (2021) Online Seminar, jointly arranged with ISHTP: “Patent Capital in the Covid-19 Pandemic”, Hyo Yoon Kang (PASSIM, Kent Law School) in conversation with Mario Biagioli (UCLA) and Javier Lezaun (Oxford). Chair: Eva Hemmungs Wirtén. May 4.

  • (2021) Online Seminar, jointly arranged with ISHTP: “Commodification of creativity”, Kathy Bowrey (UNSW) in conversation with Martin Fredriksson (PASSIM, LiU) and Brad Sherman (Uni of Queensland). Chair: Eva Hemmungs Wirtén.  April 22.

  • (2021) Article: Björn Hammarfelt, “Linking Science to Technology: the ‘Patent Paper Citation’ and the Rise of Patentometrics in the 1980s,” Journal of Documentation (77) 6, 1413-1429. DOI: 10.1108/JD-12-2020-0218

  • (2021) Article: Martin Fredriksson, “India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library and the Politics of Patent Classifications,” Law and Critique.

  • (2021) Conference participation: PASSIM-panel at the 2021 Annual Conference of The Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) on “Patents as Scientific Information: Four Translations.” November 20. The panel included PI Eva Hemmungs Wirtén as Chair, and presentations by José Bellido, Johanna Dahlin, Mattis Karlsson and Isabelle Strömstedt. Björn Hammarfelt also presented, but in the panel “The Nuances of Innovation II-Patents and Standards,” on November 19.

  • (2021) Online Workshop, “From Agencies to Patent Offices”, a collaboration with Fundación Elzaburu, Madrid. April 8.

  • (2020) Online Seminar: Annika Öhrner and Isabelle Strömstedt: Patents on Display and Methods of Exhibition Analysis, Norrköping/Online December 1 Info document (PDF). Video: 

  • (2020) 60% seminar for PASSIM Ph.D. candidate Isabelle Strömstedt, presenting her thesis, preliminarily entitled The Patent Office on Display: Intellectual Property in the Public Eye. Special reader: Associate Professor in International Legal History, Marianne Dahlén, Faculty of Law, Uppsala University. September 24, 13.15-15.00.  

  • (2019) PASSIM workshop one: ”Intellectual Property for the Un-discipline(d),” Norrköping, September 10-12.  Final program   Call for papers  Webcast: part 1, part 2

  • (2019) PASSIM Special Guest Seminar: Dr David Pretel, El Colegio de México, ”Empires of Useful Knowledge: Patents and Colonial Technology in the Atlantic World.” September 9. Flyer

  • (2019) Workshop paper: Isabelle Strömstedt, "Celebrating Patents:the Swedish Patent Office’s Jubilee Exhibition of 1941.” “Intellectual Property and the Visual,” the 11th annual workshop of The Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property (ISHTIP), UTS, Sydney, July 4-6, 2019. Abstract

  • (2019) Workshop paper: Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, "Evidence, Envelopped:Something on Proof, Priority and Patents (but not necessarily in that order),” “Intellectual Property and the Visual,” the 11th annual workshop of The Society for the History and Theory of Intellectual Property (ISHTIP), UTS, Sydney, July 4-6, 2019. Abstract 

  • (2019) Workshop presentation: Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, "Patents as Scientific Information, 1895-2020,” Patent Law and Scientific Information Workshop QUT Faculty of Law Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Research Program, Brisbane, 9 July 2019,

  • (2019) Webinar: José Bellido and Matts Lindström: Microfilm, Law and Scientific Information, Norrköping, May 7 Info document (PDF). Video:
  • (2019) Article: Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, How patents became documents, or dreaming of technoscientific order, 1895-1937, Journal of Documentation 75 (3), pp. 577-592,

The team

Eva Hemmungs Wirtén

Professor of Mediated Culture at Linköping University, Sweden.

In addition to managing and leading PASSIM's different activities, the PI's own work in the project will be a study on the multifaceted ways by which patents have evolved within a history of information order, focusing on the networks and technologies that have formed patents into "boundary objects" traveling across the borders of law, science and information.

José Bellido

Senior lecturer in Law, University of Kent, United Kingdom.
My current research focus is on the history of character merchandising but I am also interested in the links between industry and intellectual property and the changes in patent offices throughout the twentieth century.

In PASSIM I will explore the question of copyright of patent specifications, which raised questions of authorship, technologies of copying and transfer as paper documents. 

Johanna Dahlin

Postdoctoral fellow in Culture Studies at Linköping University, Sweden.
My main research interests are heritage and memory work, and more recently the enclosure and privatization of common resources. 

My contribution to PASSIM will be a study on secrecy and securitization in relation to scientific discoveries in the Soviet Union.

Martin Fredriksson

Associate Professor in Culture Studies at Linköping University, Sweden.

My research has mainly been on piracy and the history of copyright, and I am currently researching biopiracy and traditional knowledge. 

Within PASSIM, I will be looking at how counter-discourses to patent expansionism are formulated in relation to the global political agenda shifts from the new utopias of the 1970s to the cementation of a globalized economic order in the 1990s.

Björn Hammarfelt

Senior Lecturer in Library and Information Science at the University of Borås and Researcher at Linköping University, Sweden.

My current research is situated in the intersection between information studies and sociology of science, with the organization and communication of knowledge in focus.  

In PASSIM I will work on an historically informed study on the concept of 'citation' in two main scientific/technical documents, the patent and the scientific paper.

Hyo Yoon Kang

Senior Lecturer in Law at Kent Law School, University of Kent, United Kingdom.

My primary research focus is on intellectual property law, especially patents, scientific and legal knowledge techniques, the value and valuation of intellectual property.

As part of the PASSIM project, I will examine scientists’ use of patent documents and information contained in them.  The question of patent value will be elucidated from the point of view of the intended users.

Mattis Karlsson

Ph.D. in Culture and Society at Linköping University, Sweden.

Primarily interested in how science and scientific knowledge is made and mediated, I am currently working on a dissertation project on the discovery of the prehistoric human species Denisova Hominin.

In PASSIM I work as a Research Assistant, responsible for administrative coordination, running our website and Twitter account.

Gustav Källstrand

PhD, Senior Curator, Nobel Center and Researcher at Linköping University, Sweden.

I am interested in the cultural history of science; how science is ascribed meaning in culture and society, particularly in the history of the Nobel Prize.

My PASSIM-project will look at which forms of information was granted the most importance by the scientific Nobel Committees - papers, patents or personal recommendations.

Johan Larson Lindal

Phd Candidate in Culture Studies at Linköping University, Sweden.

I am studying the conceptualization and agency of works of music in interwar Europe with particular interest in mediation, intellectual property, and the ontology of art.

In PASSIM, I work as a Research Assistant.

Isabelle Strömstedt

Ph.D. Candidate in Culture Studies at Linköping University, Sweden.

My current research focus on the representation and construction of the Swedish patent office.

My contribution to PASSIM will be in the shape of my thesis, which is a collection of articles that focuses on how the Swedish Patent and Registration Office has presented itself to the public through different outlets, for example the patent office exhibition at the Swedish Museum of Science and Technology in 1941.

Marc Stuhldreier

Postdoctoral Fellow in Culture and Society at Linköping University, Sweden.

My main research interests lie in the intersection between human rights law and intellectual property, with a particular focus on the detrimental impacts of pharmaceutical patent rights on the realisation of the right to health.

In PASSIM I scrutinise the efficacy of the research incentives provided by patents for products with low profit margins. Additionally, I seek to address the impacts of online data leaks on the requirements for patentability of new innovations.


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