Fellow and College Counsel, St Catherine's College

Research Fellow, Institute of European and Comparative Law

BA/LLB Hons (Melbourne), PhD (Melbourne), DipLATHE (Oxford)

Personal webpage here.

St Catherine's webpage here.

Justine Pila came to Oxford in 2004 to take up her statutory posts of University Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law and Tutorial Fellow of St Catherine's College. Her research interests lie in the fields of intellectual property law, regulation, and law and technology. She is the author of two research monographs and one text book – The Requirement for an Invention in Patent Law (OUP 2010), The Subject Matter of Intellectual Property (OUP)), and (with PLC Torremans) European Intellectual Property Law (1st edn OUP 2016 and 2nd edn OUP 2019) – and the editor of several published collections, most recently The Oxford Handbook of Intellectual Property Law (OUP 2018) (with RC Dreyfuss). She has published widely in leading generalist and specialist journals, and her works have been cited by courts in the UK and elsewhere. 

Justine took her undergraduate degrees in Law and Arts from the University of Melbourne. She worked as an IP solicitor and Associate to the Chief Justice of the Australian Federal Court before commencing her PhD (in Law) at the University of Melbourne.

At Oxford Justine teaches intellectual property law and theory, and law, regulation, and technology, on a number of graduate and undergraduate courses for the Faculty, as well as EU Law and Jurisprudence for St Catherine's.


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  • J Pila, 'Adapting the ordre public and morality exclusion of European patent law to accommodate emerging technologies' (2020) 38 Nature Biotechnology 559
    European patent law prohibits the grant of a patent for any invention the commercial exploitation of which would be contrary to morality or ordre public (public policy). Since the introduction of the EU’s Biotech Patenting Directive in 1998, the “morality” aspect of this prohibition has been given new life with assistance from the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union. In contrast, the “public policy” aspect remains largely dormant owing to its restrictive interpretation over many years by the European Patent Office. If the patent system is to have democratic and social legitimacy in an era of accelerating technological change and uncertainty, that interpretation needs to be revisited and a new method introduced for assessing the moral and public policy implications of patent applications. This should not be difficult to achieve, since such a method already exists and has been deployed in other areas of technology regulation.
  • J Pila, 'Covid-19 and Contact Tracing: A Study in Regulation by Technology' (2020) forthcoming European Journal of Law & Technology
    A common theme of regulatory responses to Covid-19 has been the use of technology: in attempts to map the virus and its transmission, relax lockdowns and restart economies, and search for a vaccine to end the pandemic, technologies have held centre stage. Using the example of contact tracing, this Comment considers the significance of states’ reliance on technologies to achieve their regulatory objectives and some of the issues it raises. While most of the discussion around contact tracing systems has focused on privacy and data protection, their use also has wider implications for individuals and communities, particularly in the case of mobile apps. These concern legality, moral responsibility and community, autonomy, and democracy, which even expansive conceptions of privacy and data protection are unlikely fully to accommodate.
  • J Pila, 'Reflections on a Post-Pandemic European Patent System' (2020) European Intellectual Property Review (forthcoming)
    Against the backdrop of Covid-19, this paper proposes three ways to improve immediately the operation of the European patent system without the need for legislative reform. Each has particular implications for drug patenting, and reflects an interpretive conception of law and legal legitimacy as requiring the application of legislation in accordance with moral values, including those expressed in constitutional instruments. If adopted, they would: restrict the patentability of second medical indications; expand assessments of the moral and public policy implications of patenting individual inventions; and adapt the FRAND licensing system to cover essential medical technologies.
  • J Pila, 'The Authorial Works Protectable by Copyright' in E Rosati (ed), Routledge Handbook of European Copyright (Routledge 2020)
    This Chapter considers the European conception of the authorial works protectable by copyright, and the approach of the Court of Justice to determining whether an authorial work exists. To that end, it distinguishes three legal issues: the meaning of the term “authorial work”, the essential properties of an authorial work, and the degree to which a subject matter must possess those properties in order to be an authorial work for European copyright purposes. Only once these issues are resolved is it possible to assess a given subject matter and determine whether it is an authorial work requiring protection in fact. The Chapter surveys the current jurisprudence in respect of these issues. In the course of doing so, it suggests that the Court of Justice’s formalistic conception of the constitutive properties of authorial works lacks coherence and fails convincingly to explain existing case law, and is inconsistent with the usual meaning of “authorial works” in ordinary language, and with the nature of copyright as an author’s right.
  • J Pila and RC Dreyfuss, 'Intellectual Property Law: An Anatomical Overview' in RC Dreyfuss and J Pila (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Intellectual Property Law (OUP 2018)
    This Chapter introduces the law of intellectual property (IP) and its treatment in the Handbook. It begins by considering the different ways and traditions of thinking about IP, the range of subject matter that IP rights protect, and the nature and scope of those rights themselves, including the variety of third-party exceptions to them. It then outlines the domestic, regional, and international laws that comprise the modern IP field, the diverse social and economic forces that motivate those laws, and the variety of actors and institutions involved in shaping them. Finally, the Chapter introduces the structure of the Handbook and summarises each of its individual contributions. The result is an accessible overview of one of the most rich, complex, and important fields of law today, including its social and normative foundations, its emergence and development in different jurisdictions and regions, its substantive rules and principles, and its political economy.
  • J Pila (ed), The Oxford Handbook of Intellectual Property Law (OUP 2018)
    We live in an age in which expressive, informational, and technological subject matter are becoming increasingly important. Intellectual property is the primary means by which the law seeks to regulate such subject matter. It aims to promote innovation and creativity, and in doing so to support solutions to global environmental and health problems, as well as freedom of expression and democracy. It also seeks to stimulate economic growth and competition, accounting for its centrality to EU Internal Market and international trade and development policies. Additionally, it is of enormous and increasing importance to business. As a result there is a substantial and ever-growing interest in intellectual property law across all spheres of industry and social policy, including an interest in its legal principles, its social and normative foundations, and its place and operation in the political economy. This handbook written by leading academics and practitioners from the field of intellectual property law, and suitable for both a specialist legal readership and an intelligent but non-specialist legal and non-legal readership, provides a comprehensive account of the following areas: - The foundations of IP law, including its emergence and development in different jurisdictions and regions; - The substantive rules and principles of IP; and - Important issues arising from the existence and operation of IP in the political economy.
    ISBN: 9780198758457
  • J Pila, 'Copyright and Related Rights: Outlining a Case for a European Morality / Public Policy Exclusion' in PLC Torremans (ed), Copyright Law: A Handbook of Contemporary Research (Edward Elgar 2017)
    In contrast to the position under European patent and trade mark laws, European copyright and related rights legislation does not currently provide for the exclusion from protection of subject matter that is contrary to morality or public policy. Given the general antipathy that exists to Court of Justice decision-making in the intellectual property field, the criticism generated by the Court’s 2011 decision that human dignity precludes the patenting of any product the preparation of which involves the destruction of a post-fertilization human embryo, and the seeming absurdity of recent suggestions by French public authorities that morality and public policy (ordre public) require burkini-clad beachgoers to undress, the immediate reaction to this position might be relief at being saved the spectacle of the EU exploiting any further opportunity to define the requirements of morality and public policy for its 28 Member States, particularly in a field as important to the creative industries as copyright and related rights. Nonetheless, and as unpopular as existing European social norms and jurisprudence in this area might be, there is a strong case to be made for the introduction of a European morality / public policy exclusion from copyright and related rights. The purpose of this Chapter is to outline that case.
    ISBN: 978 1 78536 142 5
  • J Pila, The Subject Matter of Intellectual Property (OUP 2017)
    Despite a rich academic literature in the field of IP, there has been little conceptual analysis of the subject matter that IP rights protect and, in reflection of this, little attention paid to the meaning of the terms used to denote those subject matter. This book offers such an analysis, the first of its kind, with the aim of furthering understanding of each IP regime and of IP in general. By means of a nominal word: thing definitional exercise, and with the assistance of certain focal questions derived from theory, it studies the terms in question with reference to their recent use by IP legal officials in order to offer a conceptual understanding of the objects that they denote. The result is a definition of each term with reference to those objects, with a particular focus on the categories and properties of the subject matter protectable by each IP regime, the methods by which those subject matter are individuated within each regime, the relationship between each subject matter and its concrete instances, and the manner in which each subject matter and its instances is known.
    ISBN: 9780199688616
  • J Pila, 'An Historical Perspective: The Unitary Patent Package' in J Pila & C Wadlow (ed), Perspectives on the Unitary (EU) Patent System (Hart Publishing 2015)
  • J Pila, 'Lord Hoffmann and Purposive Interpretation in Intellectual Property Law' in PS Davies and J Pila (eds), Lord Hoffmann's Jurisprudence (Hart Publishing 2015)
    It would be impossible in a single chapter to do justice to Lord Hoffmann’s contribution to intellectual property. Given that, my aim in this contribution to his Festschrift is the more modest one of considering certain criticisms that have been leveled at his opinions, and asking whether (to borrow an expression from patent law) they are ‘fairly based’. If the criticisms have a common theme it is one of timidity; a word some may be surprised to hear in connection with Lord Hoffmann. Nonetheless, it has been suggested that some of his most important opinions in intellectual property — for example, those concerning the patentability requirement of novelty and the substantial part test of copyright infringement — have been timid in the face of three things: (a) European authority; (b) IP rights that trammel on public freedoms; and (c) legal uncertainty. In the current chapter I consider these criticisms and reject them. In the argument I make, such ambivalence on these matters as can be read in Lord Hoffmann’s opinions are merely a reflection of his commitment to giving effect to the policy choices of the legislature. I also defend his particular, purposive, interpretive approach on substantive and methodological grounds, and support the ascendancy of proportionality as a methodological tool in IP — including as a test of fair dealing in copyright — as a means of perpetuating and extending its influence.
    ISBN: 9781849465915
  • J Pila (ed), Perspectives on the Unitary (EU) Patent System (Hart Publishing 2015)
    The purpose of this book is to explore the key substantive, methodological, and institutional issues raised by the proposed unitary EU patent system contained in EU Regulations 1257/2012 and 1260/2012 and the Unified Patent Court Agreement 2013. The originality of this work lies in its individual contributions and uniquely broad approach, taking six different (historical, constitutional, international, competition, institutional and forward-looking) perspectives on the proposed patent system. This means that the book offers a multi-authored and all round legal appraisal of the proposed unitary system from experts in patent law, EU constitutional law, private international law, and competition law, as well as leading figures from the worlds of legal practice, the bench, and the European Patent Office. The unitary patent system raises issues of foundational importance in the fields of patent and intellectual property law, EU law and legal harmonization, which it is the purpose of the book to engage with.
    ISBN: 9781849466196
  • J Pila, 'Law and the Victorians: Intellectual Property' (2011) Journal of Legal History, forthcoming
  • J Pila, 'On the European Requirement for an Invention' (2010) 41 IIC: International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law 906-926
    ISBN: 0018-9855
  • J Pila, 'Patent Agent' in P Cane & J Conaghan (ed), The New Oxford Companion to Law (The New Oxford Companion to Law (OUP) 2008)
  • J Pila, 'Patents' in P Cane & J Conaghan (ed), The New Oxford Companion to Law (Oxford: OUP, 2008)
  • J Pila, 'Inherent Patentability in Anglo-Australian Law: A History' (2003) 14 Australian Intellectual Property Journal 109
    ISBN: 1038-1635
  • J Pila, 'Patenting Human Genes: The Australian Position' (2001) 6 Genetics Law Monitor 10
  • J Pila, 'The Common Law Invention in its Original Form' (2001) Intellectual Property Quarterly 209
    ISBN: 1364-906X
  • J Pila, 'The Inherent Patentability of Methods of Medical Treatment in Australia' (2000) Genetics Law Monitor 7
  • J Pila and A Christie, 'The Literary Work Within Copyright Law: An Analysis of its Present and Future Status' (1999) 13 Intellectual Property Journal 133-177
    ISBN: 0824-7064
  • J Pila, 'A-One Accessory Imports Pty Ltd v Off Road Imports Pty Ltd, 34 IPR 306 (Federal Court of Australia 1996) ' (1996) 11 EIPR D [Case Note]
  • J Pila, 'Trumpet Software Pty Ltd v Ozemail Pty Ltd, 34 IPR 481 (Federal Court of Australia 1996)' (1996) 10 EIPR D [Case Note]
  • J Pila and J MacPhail, 'Kettle Chip Co Pty Ltd v Apand Pty Ltd, 46 FCR 152 (Federal Court of Australia 1993)' (1994) 3 EIPR D [Case Note]

Research programmes

Research Interests

The law and theory of IP, especially copyright law and patent law, and including European intellectual property.

The regulatory impacts of technology.

Options taught

Jurisprudence, European Union Law, Intellectual Property Law, Private Law and Fundamental Rights, Regulation

Research projects