Patents and Publics: Engaging Museum Audiences with Issues of Ownership and Invention

July 1st, 2014 | RESEARCH

It is all very well to note the hyperbole about patents and ‘intellectual property’ in the recent battles between technology companies such as Apple, Samsung and HTC. But how can museums productively use collection items marked with a patent beyond workaday tasks of identification and cataloguing? We argue that information on patents can enhance visitors’ critical engagement with museum displays; complex ownership claims and counter-claims in patent disputes can underpin lively narratives based around museum objects. Asking why some objects and not others were patented, and how historical consumers responded to that status of ‘patented’ enables us to look at these objects afresh. In particular we analyse the responses of public consultation groups to patenting in the medical trade, as well as the engagement of museum staff with these issues. Such consultation processes offer information that can be used to enhance museum displays with engaging narratives of ownership and invention.


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Team Members

James Stark, Author, University of Leeds
Graeme Gooday, Author, University of Leeds


Identifier Type: issn
Identifier: 1479-8360

Publication: Museums & Society
Volume: 12
Number: 2
Page(s): 104

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Audience: General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: General STEM | Health and medicine | History | policy | law | Technology
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Programs