General Information

IIPSJ has an ongoing IP Empowerment Program working to empower marginalized communities economically, socially, and politically through their development, use, and lawful exploitation of IP. One of the steps in this ongoing program was the IP Empowerment Summit held on November 5, 2010. (In addition to the information below, the Summit Circular can be downloaded in pdf form.) Ongoing work is being done by committees and interest groups working on particular projects identified at the Summit and through partnering with the USPTO, NAACP, and other organizations.

BarnerJamar KapposMtima

IIPSJ IP Empowerment Summit

On November 5, 2010, the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice (IIPSJ) conducted its first National IP Empowerment Summit at the Howard University School of Law. The IP Empowerment Summit brought together a diverse group of IP professionals, including IP lawyers from private practice, in-house counsel, and academia, to collaborate with legislators and public interest and community activists to devise strategies for community development built around artistic works and technological innovation.

IIPSJ IP Summit Empowerment Committees will be formed to create both discrete plans on particular topics and to collectively construct a blueprint to help educate and empower socio-economically marginalized communities to protect and commercially exploit their own IP works for their own benefit. We expect these efforts to lead to the establishment of IP Empowerment Zones in strategic urban locations. The groups to be served include associations of artists; students in fine arts, engineering, and science degree programs; community development association; and inventors. IIPSJ IP Summit attorneys will also work to empower attorneys serving these communities to develop the competencies and skills to carry out this work.

IP practitioners from a variety of law firms, in-house counsel departments, academic institutions, and public interest organizations have committed to participate in the IP Empowerment Summit, and plans are underway to link this program to similar initiatives around the nation.

The Need for IP-Focused Empowerment Strategies

In today's information-based economy, economic power is often dependent upon intellectual property. Consequently, IP attorneys can and should take the lead in empowering minority and other marginalized communities to compete for and attain a stake in the 21st century economy. Stimulating an increase in ethnic diversity within the intellectual property bar is a major objective of the Summit, and is a key means to implement the empowerment strategies.

IIPSJ IP Empowerment Summit Core Principles and Objectives

The core principles underlying IIPSJ's community IP empowerment program are:

  • Education about IP rights and their value is central to the tasks at hand;
  • Helping protect IP rights is a necessary step toward beneficial exploitation of the IP rights;
  • Entrepreneurial values and skills are necessary for success of the program; and
  • Political activism and legislative lobbying will play a valuable part in any such undertaking.


The one-day IP Empowerment Summit will bring together patent, trademark and copyright attorneys, other IP professionals, and members of the public interest and community action sectors, to meet, discuss, learn, and network about how they can implement the underlying principles through:

  • Diversifying the field of IP practice;
  • Empowering minority and marginalized communities through the vehicle of IP protection and exploitation; and
  • Sharing best practices in an effort to further their professional careers and ascend to strategic positions through which to effectuate social change.


IP Empowerment Summit Pilot Community Programs

The IP Empowerment Summit will function as a clearinghouse of valuable information concerning minority artists, inventors, entrepreneurs, and IP professionals. Information regarding market opportunities and business development trends will also be developed as will a national database of minority IP lawyers. Much of this information will be captured at the Summit and then disseminated through IIPSJ’s website ( Summit participants will be invited to join permanent IP Empowerment Action Committees to assess and use the data, and to deploy the IP empowerment agenda through various community programs which include:

Minority Students in Science and Engineering Road Show

This program will engage law students, attorneys, and academicians in the development and presentation of "IP Road Show" programs designed to expose undergraduate minority science, engineering, and fine arts students to the fundamentals of IP law. The twin objectives of this program are to apprise students of information needed to exploit successfully their creative works as well as to expose them to the option of pursuing legal careers in the IP field.

Community IP Rights and Education Program

This program will educate high school and college students as well as community creative artists and inventors about the interconnected themes of the nature of intellectual property rights and of the value of exploiting creator's and inventor's rights. Law students and practicing IP attorneys will undertake to familiarize members of the target communities with the benefits of IP protection, and to help them to more fully appreciate that they are both creative artists and inventors as well as IP end-users. Community artists and inventors will learn how weak creator/inventor rights diminish their own prospects for IP-related economic empowerment. The program will include exploration of public domain material as a preferred source for user-generated content and private innovation since such material has fewer legal restrictions and concomitantly greater prospects for entrepreneurial success.

IP Talent Development Program

This program will bring together IP professionals and entrepreneurs to assist marginalized creative artists and inventors in the propitious exploitation of their creative output in the digital age. Sponsored community workshops and laboratories will provide development facilities, IP-related educational and vocational information, and opportunities for artistic license arrangements and technology transfer agreements.

IP Empowerment and Political Activism Project

This multi-faceted project will seek to increase public awareness and understanding of IP, will engage in political activism through community building around IP issues, and will function as a legislative developments think tank. IP professionals, educators, and public interest and community activists will collaborate on policy initiatives and lobbying efforts intended to impact IP legislation and government initiatives to ensure a close fit between IP rights and empowerment of minorities and other marginalized groups.

IIPSJ Program Date: November 5, 2010

The schedule for the IP Empowerment Program may be downloaded in PDF form.

Sponsors and Supporters

Donate to IIPSJ

Email us at to donate and help support IIPSJ.

Email Sign-up

Please type your email address in the box and click enter to subscribe to our mailing list.