IP, Innovation, and Race

IP and Innovation: What’s Race Got to Do With It?

For many IP attorneys and law and policy makers, the question of the relevance of race to IP law and Innovation Policy has been the elephant in the room throughout the ongoing national conversation on systemic racism in America. This month we spotlight four articles that provide compelling insights into this issue.

First, in a highly informative NPR podcast and post, Professor Lisa Cook of Michigan State University explains how the daily fears and intimidation of “living while black” in America during the periods of post-Reconstruction and Jim Crow obliterated the legal incentives for black inventors to apply for patents and otherwise undertake innovative endeavors. The next article by journalist Ian Lopez details the obstacles that today’s black IP attorneys – particularly patent attorneys – face in their efforts to establish themselves and to progress in the field of IP practice.

The latter two articles illustrate how the inchoate IP capability within the black community can be brought to fruition when black inventors manage to overcome the systemic barriers they face. Surmounting the Insurmountable details the struggles and achievements of Percy Julian, a black chemist who managed to obtain over 130 patents despite the educational, professional, and scholarly racism he encountered during the period of Jim Crow. The final article celebrates the issuance of the first patent obtained through the efforts of student-attorneys in the recently established IP pro bono Patent Clinic at the Howard University School of Law.

What’s race got to do with IP and Innovation? Read these articles and judge for yourself.

•  Black Economist’s Research Finds A Blindspot On A Theory Of Innovation

•  Black IP Lawyers Who’ve Made It Look to Grow Ranks Beyond 1.7%

•   Surmounting the insurmountable

•  Howard Law Patent Law Clinic secured its first patent for a client

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