organised by Dr. Jessica C. Lai and Dr. Antoinette Maget Dominicé

Date: 23rd January 2015 to 24th January 2015
Location: University of Lucerne

The aim of the conference is to explore the relationship between intellectual property and its physical materialisations, with a particular focus on the issue of access and the challenges of new technologies. Though intellectual property protects the intangible, it is indisputable that intellectual property goods (whether they be copyrighted works, patented inventions or trade marks) classically had to be physically materialised in order to be enjoyed or used, such as on canvas, as a pharmaceutical and trade marked products. This materialisation can, however, challenge our theoretical notion of the intangible and the tangible as constituting discrete forms of property and can have serious consequences on access to intellectual property goods. A classic example is that of an owner of an original art work, who may not own the copyright, but who can control access to the work and thereby exert copyright-like rights.  New technologies raise further problems relating to the relationship between the intangible and tangible. For example, biotechnology patents that cover or encompass specific cell lines that are not reproducible from the patent disclosure could be seen as protecting something tangible. What exactly constitutes materialisation is also of significance. As an illustration, whether digital reproductions of copyrighted works are considered to be physically materialised can affect the doctrine of exhaustion and, thus, access to a “second-hand” market. Indeed, the move away from classical analogue materialisation, as a consequence of the digital age, highlights the issue of what copyright means when there is no copy in the classical sense. Our aim is to address the divide between the intangible and the tangible from the perspective of issues of access and problems relating to new technologies.

Flyer Access to Material and Immaterial Goods