Steven Wilf

Anthony J. Smits Professor of Global Commerce
Headshot of Professor Wilf.
Office: Hosmer 303


  • Copyright
  • Trademark
  • Intellectual Property
  • Legal History

A scholar whose research focuses on intellectual property law and legal history, Steven Wilf is the author of The Law Before the Law (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), Law’s Imagined Republic: Popular Politics and Criminal Justice in Revolutionary America (Cambridge University Press, 2010), and numerous articles. He founded the Law School’s Intellectual Property Program and served as Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development from 2010-2013. Professor Wilf received both his Ph.D. in history from Yale University and his law degree from Yale Law School in 1995. Prior to joining the faculty, he clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and was the Samuel I. Golieb Fellow in Legal History at NYU Law School.

Professor Wilf teaches Criminal Law, Development of the Regulatory State, Intellectual Property Law, and a variety of seminars on the regulation of knowledge. He has been a visiting professor at Hebrew University, Jerusalem and DAAD guest professor at the Freie Universität, Berlin. His research fellowships include a fellowship in Comparative Legal History at the University of Chicago and a Lemelson Fellowship for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian Institution. In 2010-2011, he was the Microsoft Fellow in Law, Property, and the Economic Organization of Society at Princeton University's Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA). During the academic year 2013-2014, Professor Wilf was appointed Elizabeth S. and Richard M. Cashin Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. He served as the Abraham L. Kaminstein Scholar in Residence at the United States Copyright Office and participating fellow at the Wesleyan University Center for the Humanities Intellectual Property/Intellectual Piracy research project. In 2016 and 2018 he has been a visiting professor at Yale Law School. Wilf is currently completing a history of intellectual property law for Cambridge University Press.

Steven WilfIntellectual Property in The Blackwell Companion to American Legal History, (eds. Al Brophy and Sally Hadden , Blackwell,  2013)

Steven Wilf, Intellectual Property Law and History (Ashgate Publishing Co., 2012)

Steven Wilf, Copyright and Social Movements in Late Nineteenth-Century America, 12 Theoretical Inquiries in Law 123 (2011)
Steven Wilf, Law/Text/Past, 1 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 543 (2011)
Steven Wilf, Law’s Imagined Republic, Popular Politics and Criminal Justice in Revolutionary America (Cambridge University Press, 2010)
Steven Wilf, The Invention of Legal Primitivism, 10 Theoretical Inquiries in Law 485 (July 2009)