Written Property, Public Secrets, and the Re-Making of Global Flows: The Production of Taiwanese Semiconductor Patents between the United States and China


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Early Career Fellowships


Global Affairs

Named Award

Long Term named award


In today’s knowledge economy, semiconductor companies deploy patents to maintain unequal global distributions of products, profits, labor, and environmental risk. This book manuscript is an ethnography of Taiwanese property worker attempts to write powerful light emitting diode (LED) patents by translating the materialities of the lab into logical objects recognizable to US legal institutions. While R&D engineers innovate new technologies, this project argues that it is patent engineers who create inventions. As they do so, they must balance the potential power of their property claims against the release of company or national secrets. These patents then enable Taiwan's companies to thrive, even stuck between China's low wages and key US, European, and Japanese patents.