Dr Luke McDonagh

Dr Luke McDonagh

Assistant Professor of Law

LSE Law School

Room No
Cheng Kin Ku Building 7.35
English, French
Key Expertise
Intellectual property, copyright, patents, trade marks, litigation

About me

Dr Luke McDonagh joined LSE Law School in 2020. He undertakes research in the areas of Intellectual Property Law and Constitutional Law. Prior to taking up his position at LSE he was a Senior Lecturer at City, University of London (2015-2020), a Lecturer at Cardiff University (2013-2015) and LSE Fellow (2011-13). Luke holds a PhD from Queen Mary, University of London (2011), an LL.M from the London School of Economics (LSE) (2006-7) and a B.C.L. degree from NUI, Galway (2002-05). He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

Luke has published widely in respected journals including The Modern Law Review, the Cambridge Law Journal, the Journal of Law and Society, Intellectual Property Quarterly, Civil Justice Quarterly and the International Journal of Cultural Property. Luke is the author of the monograph European Patent Litigation in the Shadow of the Unified Patent Court (Edward Elgar, 2016) and the co-author (along with Prof. Stavroula Karapapa of the University of Reading) of the text book Intellectual Property Law (OUP, 2019). His most recent monograph is Performing Copyright: Law, Theatre and Authorship (Hart, 2021). In 2023-24 he was awarded the prestigious Lalive and Merryman Fellowship Award for the best article published in the International Journal of Cultural Property in 2022.

Luke’s work on patent litigation was cited in 2014 in the UK Parliament (House of Commons) and in a US Federal Trade Commission report on Patent assertion entities in 2016. In January 2019 he was invited to present his research on patent law before the JURI Committee of the European Parliament. In 2021 Luke’s research was cited in an Irish Senate (Seanad Éireann) debate on the WTO TRIPS Waiver proposal put forward by India and South Africa during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Luke has been awarded grant funding for a range of successful law projects, including substantial grants from the ESRC, EU Horizon2020, the UK Global Challenges Research Fund, the UK Intellectual Property Office, The Modern Law Review, CREATe and the UK Constitutional Law Association.

Luke has held a range of visiting scholar positions at institutions around the world, including at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan (2014-15); Keio University, Tokyo, Japan (2017-18); Toyo University, Tokyo, Japan (2018-19); Tongji University, Shanghai, China (2019-20); and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy (2019-20).

Luke has published journalistic articles and blogs with the Guardian, Independent, Salon, the FT Adviser, the Kluwer Patent Blog, the LSE Review of Books and The Conversation.

Administrative support: Law.Reception@lse.ac.uk

Research interests

Luke’s IP law research primarily involves using empirical and theoretical insights to shed light on interesting (and sometimes controversial) aspects of intellectual property, such as the interplay between property owners and users in free-sharing creative environments (including those of theatre, open-source software and traditional music). His PhD research (2007-2011) involved empirical analysis of the relationship between Irish traditional music and copyright using interviews and survey data gathered from traditional musicians. His work on theatre and copyright includes a 2014 article in the Modern Law Review investigating copyright in the world of theatre, whereby he interviewed playwrights, directors and actors about the relationship between their theatrical practices and the norms of copyright. His work on law and trade marks resulted in a 2015 article on trade marks, brands and anthropological marketing in the Journal of Law and Society. More recently he has been investigating how intellectual property law interacts with artificial intelligence and interactive robotics as part of the Horizon2020 project Inclusive Robotics for a Better Society (INBOTS - http://inbots.eu/).

In addition to IP law, Luke conducts research on constitutionalism in the post-British Empire period, including a project with Dr Mara Malagodi (CUHK) & Professor Thomas Poole (LSE) that resulted in a 2019 symposium issue of the International Journal of Constitutional Law (I-CON) focused on the Dominion constitutions in Ireland, India, Pakistan and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).



Performing Copyright: Law, Theatre and Authorship (Oxford: Hart, 2021)

Based on empirical research, this innovative book explores issues of performativity and authorship in the theatre world under copyright law and addresses several inter-connected questions: who is the author and first owner of a dramatic work? Who gets the credit and the licensing rights? What rights do the performers of the work have? Given the nature of theatre as a medium reliant on the re-use of prior existing works, tropes, themes and plots, what happens if an allegation of copyright infringement is made against a playwright? Furthermore, who possesses moral rights over the work?

To evaluate these questions in the context of theatre, the first part of the book examines the history of the dramatic work both as text and as performative work. The second part explores the notions of authorship and joint authorship under copyright law as they apply to the actual process of creating plays, referring to legal and theatrical literature, as well as empirical research. The third part looks at the notion of copyright infringement in the context of theatre, noting that cases of alleged theatrical infringement reach the courts comparatively rarely in comparison with music cases, and assessing the reasons for this with respect to empirical research. The fourth part examines the way moral rights of attribution and integrity work in the context of theatre. The book concludes with a prescriptive comment on how law should respond to the challenges provided by the theatrical context, and how theatre should respond to law.

Very original and innovative, this book proposes a ground-breaking empirical approach to study the implications of copyright law in society and makes a wonderful case for the need to consider the reciprocal influence between law and practice.

click here for publisher's site

click here for a more detailed introduction to the book



Intellectual Property Law (Oxford University Press, 2019)‬ (with S. Karapapa)

click here for publisher's site



European Patent Litigation in the Shadow of the Unified Patent Court (Edward Elgar, 2016)

With the introduction of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and the new European Patent with Unitary Effect, the European patent litigation system is undergoing a set of fundamental reforms. This timely book assesses the current state of European patent litigation by analysing recently published data on Europe's four major patent jurisdictions - the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands - and also looks ahead to examine what the impact of the UPC is likely to be on Europe's patent litigation system in the near future.

click here for publisher's site

Book chapters

‘Ownership as Sharing: The Practices of Irish Folk Music’ in E. Bonadio and C. Zhu (Eds.) Music Borrowing and Copyright Law - A Genre-by-Genre Analysis (Hart, 2023)

‘Directive 2019/790/EU (Directive on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market’ in A. Lodder & A. Murray, EU Regulation of e-Commerce: A Commentary (Edward Elgar, 2022)

Enrico Bonadio, Plamen Dinev, and Luke McDonagh, ‘Can Artificial Intelligence Infringe Copyright? Some Reflections’ in Ryan Abbott (ed.), Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2022)

‘Playwrights’ in E. Bonadio & C. Sappa (eds.), The Subjects of Literary and Artistic Copyright (Edward Elgar, 2022).

‘The Constitutional Implications of Brexit for Northern Ireland,’ in T. Ahmed & E. Fahey (eds.), On Brexit Law, Justices and Injustices (Edward Elgar, 2019), 190–204.

‘Protecting traditional music under copyright (and choosing not to do enforce it),’ in E. Bonadio & N. Lucchi (eds.), Non-conventional Copyright - Do new and atypical works deserve copyright protection? (Edward Elgar, 2018), 151-173.

‘UK Patent Law and Copyright Law after Brexit: Potential Consequences,’ in O.E. Fitzgerald & E. Lein (eds.), Complexity's Embrace: The International Law Implications of Brexit (CIGI Press, 2018), 177-190.

‘Biogen v Medeva,’ in J. Bellido (ed.), Landmark Cases in Intellectual Property (Hart, 2017), 289-316.

Luke McDonagh & Marc Mimler, ‘Intellectual Property Law and Brexit: A Retreat or a Reaffirmation of Jurisdiction?’ in M. Dougan (ed.), The UK After Brexit: Legal and Policy Challenges (Intersentia, 2017), 159–179.

‘FOSS and Alternative Licensing in the United Kingdom: Assessing the Dual Importance of Contract Law and Copyright Law,’ in A. Metzger (ed.), Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and other Alternative Licensing Models - A Comparative Analysis of the Main Legal Issues (Springer, 2016), 461-476.

'Copyright, Contract and FOSS' in in N. Shemtov & I. Walden (eds.), Free and Open-Source Software: Policy, Law and Practice (Oxford University Press, 2013), 74-107.


Commissioned Reports

O. Gurgula and L. McDonagh, ‘Proposal for a new Article 11bis in the WHO Pandemic Accord: a Pandemic Technology Transfer Mechanism’ South Centre Policy Brief 261 (April 2024)

Enrico Bonadio & Luke McDonagh, Standard Essential Patents and the Internet of Things (European Parliament, 2019)

Luke McDonagh,‘UK Patent Law and Copyright Law after Brexit: Potential Consequences,’ CIGI-BIICL Brexit: The International Legal Implications Paper Series No. 3 (2017)

Christian Helmers, Yassine Lefouili & Luke McDonagh, 'Evaluation of the Reforms of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court 2010-2013,' UK Intellectual Property Office (July 2015)

Christian Helmers, Yassine Lefouili & Luke McDonagh, 'Examining Patent Cases at the Patents Court and Intellectual Property Enterprise Court 2007-2013' UK Intellectual Property Office (March 2015)

Luke McDonagh, 'Exploring perspectives of the Unified Patent Court and the Unitary Patent within the Business and Legal Communities' UK Intellectual Property Office (July 2014)


2019-20 – Awarded £37,000 by the ESRC as Co-Investigator of City, University of London’s project: TRILATTRADE - UK-EU-Japan Trade Relations: Modelling Trade, Regulaton & IP.

2019-20 - Awarded £10,000 by the U.K. FCO/British Embassy as Primary Investigator of City, University of London’s successful grant bid to conduct UK-Cuba research on creative industries and copyright law.

2018-19 – Awarded £17,500 as Primary Investigator of City, University of London’s successful UK Global Challenges Research Fund block grant bid to conduct research on patents and university innovation in the UK, Mexico and Cuba.

2017-20 – Awarded €100,000 as Co-Investigator of an EU Horizon2020 project on Robotics and IP Law: Inclusive Robotics for a Better Society (INBOTS).

2015-16 – Awarded £5,010 as Primary Investigator from The Modern Law Review and £500 from UK CLA to organise the 2016 MLR Seminar at City Law School on Dominion constitutionalism.

2013-2014 – Awarded tender of £17,000 as Primary Investigator by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to conduct empirical research concerning the Unitary Patent Court.

2012-2013 – Awarded funding totalling £58,000 as Primary Investigator by the UK Intellectual Property Office to research IP litigation at the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court.