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Both Faculty and also Doctoral Researchers at CIPIL engage with most of the principal subject areas of intellectual property (IP) and information law (IL) including copyright (e.g. Prof. Lionel Bently, Dr Christina Angelopoulos, Dr Henning Gross-Ruse Khan), confidentiality (e.g. Prof. Lionel Bently, Dr David Erdos), data protection (e.g. Dr David Erdos, Ann Kristin Glenster), defamation (e.g. Dr David Erdos, Laura Hannan), patents (e.g. Dr Kathy Liddell, Dr Henning Grosse-Ruse Khan, Dr John Liddicoat), misuse of private information and common law privacy more generally (e.g. Dr David Erdos, Dr Jeff Skopek), trade marks (e.g. Prof Lionel Bently, Dr Jennifer Davis) and unfair competition (Dr Jennifer Davis).  This breadth enables CIPIL to contribute to research within a wide-range of these two sub-disciplines and links strongly to our teaching at both Tripos and LLM levels.

At the same time, most of our research falls within one or more of five cross-cutting themes within IP and IL and it is through these themes that much of the commonality of CIPIL’s research can be found:

(1) History of IP and IL: Exploring the historical development of IL and IP has been a major focus of CIPIL’s work since its inception.  Prof. Lionel Bently has explored many aspects of the history of intellectual property especially in relation to copyright, both Prof. Bently and Dr Jennifer Davis have explored the development of trade marks since the nineteenth century. Dr David Erdos has explored the trajectory of European data protection over its fifty-year history especially as within the worlds of journalism, new media and research.  The theme also undergirds CIPIL’s role in developing a range of online resources including the Virtual Museum and Primary Sources on Copyright History (1450-1900).

(2) IP and IL in the Evolving Information Ecosystem:  CIPIL researchers are also exploring the evolving nature of IP and IL in the context of more recent changes in the information ecosystem.  In particular, Dr Kathy Liddell and Dr John Liddicoat (alongside Matthew Jordan) are examining the wide variety of IP issues which arise from the development of large human bioresources including rules on access to biological materials and data and the commercialisation of downstream innovations.  Meanwhile, Dr Christina Angelopoulos and Dr David Erdos have been exploring how new online platforms and other novel online intermediaries are and should be governed especially under laws of copyright and data protection respectively.  Related to this, Dr Henning Gross-Ruse Khan has been looking at the use of automated decision-making tools for (and often well beyond) IP enforcement on various major online platforms and how this changing, de facto, the nature of key IP norms in various ways.

(3) Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives:  Whilst much of the work which CIPIL researchers undertake is exclusively doctrinal, a range of CIPIL work has adopted a multi-disciplinary or even inter-disciplinary approach.  Both Dr David Erdos’ work on data protection and Dr Kathy Liddell’s and Dr John Liddicoat’s have utilised both qualitative and quantitative empirical methodology.  Meanwhile, Dr Jennifer Davis’ work has particularly sought to explore how IP law has interacted within wider linguistic understandings, as well as how it has been shaped by political, economic and social change from an historian’s perspective.  This inter-disciplinarity has helped support CIPIL’s wider multi-disciplinarity relationship with a wide range of research initiatives beyond Law including Cambridge Centre for Data-Driven Discovery, Cambridge’s Trust and Technology Initiative and the Alan Turing Institute’s work on data ethics.

(4) Norm and Rights Conflicts within IP and IL:  Analysis of conflicts of rights and norms has become an increasing focus of both IP and IL scholarship and much of the research within CIPIL grapples with this.  Dr Kathy Liddell and Dr John Liddicoat’s research on human bioresources has analysed the tension between ensuring financial sustainability of these complex systems, enabling academic research and ensuring that benefit is returned to members of the public.  Dr Christina Angelopoulos’ work has explored the interface between intellectual property rights, freedom of expression and other fundamental rights within the context of intermediary liability.  Similarly, Dr David Erdos has examined the tension between data protection and freedom of expression in both this and other areas including journalism and academic research.  Dr Henning Gross-Ruse Khan’s work has explored how the protection of IP relates to trade, investment, human rights and environmental protection on the international level, and within countries at a wide range of levels of economic development.

(5) Trans-nationality in IP and IL:  The interface between national and supra-national legal systems is an increasingly central aspect not only of IP and IL law but also of CIPIL research.  Much of CIPIL’s work takes place within a pan-European context and, therefore, involves analysis of the relationship between national law and common EU and other European (e.g. Council of Europe, European Patent Organisation) legal frameworks.  A number of CIPIL researchers including, most notably, Dr Henning Gross-Ruse Khan also analyse a range of wider transnational systems including IP protection under the Agreement for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), instruments of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and private orders set by global platforms. This theme also relates to CIPIL’s development of an online resource of European traveaux which now encompass background material on over ten EU instruments within IP and IL.