1. médialab Sciences Po
  2. Activities
  3. Who owns accounting?

Who owns accounting?

Who owns accounting?

Many organizations develop proprietary accounting methods, protected by patents or copyright. “Who owns accounting?” studies how accounting became an unexpected object of intellectual property since the 1970s.


The "Who owns accounting? The Rise of Intellectual Property Rights on Accounting Methods (1970-2020)" is directed by Martin Giraudeau (CSO) and in partnership with the medialab.

Who owns accounting? Many organizations, starting with consulting firms, are developing proprietary accounting methods, which they protect through patents, copyrights or trademarks, and which they use internally or license to other organizations, in the hope of increasing efficiency, transparency, etc. 

Accounting standard-setters themselves, such as the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), own copyright in accounting standards and related directives, the use of which they then control through authorizations and royalties, even, in some cases, where such use is required by law. 

There are many issues at stake in this appropriation of accounting. In what capacity can classification and calculation techniques merit patent or copyright protection? Why do we seem to have seen an increase in intellectual property rights over accounting in recent decades? Is this a sign, or even a cause, of greater technical innovation in the accounting field? What does this tell us about the very nature of the methods in question and the value attributed to them in contemporary societies?

Partnerships and fundings

Le Centre de Sociologie des Organisations (CSO)

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)