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, Law’s Imagined Republic: Popular Politics and Criminal Justice in Revolutionary America, and Patent Cultures: Diversity and Harmonization in Historical Perspective (with Graeme Gooday). He founded the Law School’s Intellectual Property Program and from 2010-2013 served as Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development.

Professor Wilf teaches Criminal Law, Development of the Regulatory State, Intellectual Property Law, Copyright, and a variety of seminars on the regulation of knowledge. He received his J.D. and Ph.D. in history from Yale University. Prior to joining the faculty, he clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 

In the area of intellectual property law, Professor Wilf held the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Fellowship for the Study of Invention and Innovation as well as the Microsoft Fellowship in Law, Property, and the Economic Organization of Society at Princeton’s Program in Law and Public Affairs (LAPA). He has been a visiting professor at Hebrew University, Berlin’s Freie Universität as the DAAD guest scholar, and Yale Law School. Professor Wilf was an Elizabeth S. and Richard M. Cashin Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. More recently, he served as the Abraham L. Kaminstein Scholar in Residence at the United States Copyright Office. Appointed as the Fulbright-Schuman Innovation Scholar for this coming year, Professor Wilf will be posted at the Centre d'Etudes Internationales de la Propriété Intellectuelle in Strasbourg. He is currently completing a history of intellectual property law for Cambridge University Press.

Graeme Gooday and Steven Wilf, Patent Cultures: Diversity and Harmonization in Historical Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Steven Wilf, What We Talk about When We Talk About Fictional Characters (and Copyright), 7 Critical Analysis of Law 51 (2020)

Steven Wilf, The Legal Treatise in The Oxford Handbook of Law and the Humanities (eds. Simon Stern, Maksymillian del Mar, and Bernadette Meyler, Oxford University Press, 2020)

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

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)