Sonia Katyal

Research Expertise and Interest

artificial intelligence, law and technology, intellectual property law, contemporary art and law, gender and sexuality

Research Description

Professor Katyal joined the Berkeley Law faculty in fall 2015 from Fordham Law School, where she served as the associate dean for research and the Joseph M. McLaughlin Professor of Law.

Her scholarly work focuses on the intersection of technology, intellectual property, and civil rights (including antidiscrimination, privacy, and freedom of speech). Her past projects have studied the relationship between informational privacy and copyright enforcement, the impact of advertising and trademarks on freedom of expression, and the intersection between technology and gender. Katyal also works on issues relating to art and cultural property, focusing on new technologies and the role of museums in the United States and abroad. Her current projects focus on the intersection between internet access and civil/human rights, with a special emphasis on the right to information; algorithmic transparency and discrimination; source code and the impact of trade secrecy; and a variety of projects on the intersection between gender and the commons. As a member of the university-wide Haas LGBT Cluster, Professor Katyal also works on matters regarding law, gender and sexuality. Professor Katyal’s recent publications include The Numerus Clausus of Sex, in the University of Chicago Law Review; Technoheritage, in the California Law Review; Rethinking Private Accountability in the Age of the Algorithm, in the UCLA Law Review (forthcoming); The Paradox of Source Code Secrecy, in the Cornell Law Review (forthcoming); Transparenthood in the Michigan Law Review (with Ilona Turner) (forthcoming); and Platform Law and the Brand Enterprise in the Berkeley Journal of Law and Technology (with Leah Chan Grinvald).

Professor Katyal is the co-author of Property Outlaws (Yale University Press, 2010) (with Eduardo M. Peñalver), which studies the intersection between civil disobedience and innovation in property and intellectual property frameworks. Professor Katyal has won several awards for her work, including an honorable mention in the American Association of Law Schools Scholarly Papers Competition, a Yale Cybercrime Award, and twice received a Dukeminier Award from the Williams Project at UCLA for her writing on gender and sexuality. She has previously published with a variety of law reviews, including the Yale Law Journal, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Washington Law Review, Texas Law Review, and the UCLA Law Review, in addition to a variety of other publications, including the New York Times, the Brooklyn Rail, Washington Post, CNN, Boston Globe’s Ideas section, Los Angeles Times, Slate, Findlaw, and the National Law Journal. Katyal is also the first law professor to receive a grant through The Creative Capital/ Warhol Foundation for her forthcoming book, Contrabrand, which studies the relationship between art, advertising and trademark and copyright law.

In March of 2016, Katyal was selected by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to be part of the inaugural U.S. Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors. Katyal also serves as an Affiliate Scholar at Stanford Law’s Center for Internet and Society, and is a founding advisor to the Women in Technology Law organization. She also serves on the Executive Committee for the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM) and on the Advisory Board for Media Studies at UC Berkeley.

Before entering academia, Professor Katyal was an associate specializing in intellectual property litigation in the San Francisco office of Covington & Burling. Professor Katyal also clerked for the Honorable Carlos Moreno (later a California Supreme Court Justice) in the Central District of California and the Honorable Dorothy Nelson in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Courses taught include Property Law; Law and Sexuality; Advertising, Branding and the First Amendment; Trademark Law; Law and Technology Writing Workshop; and Law, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (in 2019).

In the News

Attack on LGBTQ+ Rights: The Politics and Psychology of a Backlash

Some states are seeking to ban school discussion and books that feature LGBTQ issues. Texas is targeting doctors and parents who provide gender-affirming medical care to transgender teenagers. Florida has gone to war against Disney World, after Disney publicly opposed the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.
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