Waiving COVID vaccine patent rights? It’s complicated
December 27, 2021
Harvard Law Today recently spoke to Professors Terry Fisher and Ruth Okediji about COVID-19 vaccine challenges in the global south, waiving drug-maker patents, and what they propose to reform the system in time for the next pandemic.
The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University has announced the appointment of Susan Hendrickson ’93 as its new executive director.
‘Talent is equally distributed; opportunity is not’
November 30, 2021
Future-L, a pilot collaboration between Harvard Law School and the National Education Equity Lab, introduces high-achieving high school students from historically underserved backgrounds to the legal field.
A kaleidoscope of views on globalization
November 23, 2021
At a Harvard Law School book talk and discussion on “Six Faces of Globalization: Who Wins, Who Loses and Why It Matters,” panelists discussed the authors' major narratives for and against the economic phenomenon.
Gantt named executive director of Program on Biblical Law and Christian Legal Studies at HLS
September 13, 2021
L.O. Natt Gantt, II ’94 has been appointed the inaugural executive director of the Harvard Law School Program on Biblical Law and Christian Legal Studies and a lecturer on law at HLS.
Tips for law school success
August 31, 2021
Harvard Law School faculty and staff share what they wished they’d known about doing well and staying well in law school — useful whether you’re a first-year student just beginning your journey, an LL.M., S.J.D., or a 3L preparing to make your mark on the world.
May 27, 2021
Keyon Lo LL.M. ’21 hopes to combine his legal and artistic skills to promote fairness and diversity
With a Covid-19 vaccine patent waiver likely, time to rethink global intellectual property rules
May 10, 2021
An op-ed by Ruth L. Okediji: On Wednesday May 5, the US moved to back a Covid-19 vaccine patent waiver that was being debated at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The proposal, first put forward by South Africa and India in October 2020, seeks to temporarily lift certain intellectual property rights that belong to pharmaceutical companies so that other nations can develop generic versions of the drugs. As awareness of vaccine inequality has grown, patents and other types of intellectual property have become central to how the world emerges from the pandemic. Ironically, the patent system was supposed to improve public welfare. Here's how the rationale goes: in return for disclosing her invention -- i.e. by seeking a patent -- an inventor would be able to, among other things, exclusively make, use, and sell that patented product for 20 years. This would -- as the US Constitution puts it -- "promote the progress of science and the useful arts" by incentivizing the creation and dissemination of lifesaving products. In practice however, the global patent system has enabled the creation of drugs that pharmaceutical companies can sell at high prices, to the patients who can afford them and largely for diseases prevalent in wealthy countries. Pharmaceutical companies argue that these high prices are necessary to recoup substantial research and development (R+D) expenditures, but patent rules also prevent poor countries from producing medicines locally to meet domestic needs.
Harvard Law Professor Ruth Okediji believes recent events can reinvigorate American democracy and serve as a lesson for the world.
August 26, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the globe, affecting every aspect of human society, Harvard Law School finds itself at a pivotal moment in legal education. From the crisis, and the challenges and opportunities of remote learning, it is wresting pedagogical innovations that are transforming what it means to get a legal education.
African innovators have shown creativity and ingenuity in finding solutions to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, but face legal barriers to safeguarding their intellectual property. There have been 192 innovations directed at COVID-19 from Nigeria alone, as well as more than 90 from South Africa, it was revealed during a webinar hosted by Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession, and digital platform Africa.com. “One of the things COVID-19 has done is to underscore the importance of innovation in societies that have been viewed as lacking the intellectual capacity to deploy innovation,” said Professor Ruth L. Okediji of Harvard Law School. “Many innovations in Africa lack the protection necessary to make business models scalable and meaningful.” The webinar brought together top legal minds to discuss Law and crisis management: Working with lawyers in business, government and society to manage the challenges of COVID-19...David Wilkins, Faculty Director at the Center on the Legal Profession, started off with a brief presentation on the role of lawyers in society, reminding participants that one of the continent’s greatest freedom fighters, Nelson Mandela, had been a lawyer. “We tend to think of lawyers as technical appliers of the law…Lawyers must also be counsellors to help clients make decisions that are not only legal but also right…Lawyers must also be leaders who play a critical role in leading key organizations,” Wilkins said.
Last Lecture: Ruth Okediji encourages the graduating class to cultivate the courage to try something new
May 20, 2020
In her Last Lecture, Ruth Okediji encouraged the graduating class to cultivate the courage to try something new.
Harvard Law School Last Lecture Series 2020
May 20, 2020
The 2020 Last Lecture Series is an HLS tradition where selected faculty members impart insight, advice, and final words of wisdom to the graduating class. Speakers this year included Dehlia Umunna, Daphna Renan, Ruth Okediji, and Naz Modirzadeh.
Re-Thinking Copyright At Right The Right
December 6, 2019
Imagine you have before you a blank sheet of paper. All existing copyright legislation, the whole history of property laws relating to creative works, has been completely erased. It’s up to you to rewrite it from scratch. Where would you start?...As Harvard law scholar Ruth Okediji put it in her brilliant keynote lecture on the festival’s Friday afternoon, “in important material respects, copyright law has written out creators.” Musicians, she claimed, were far more likely to find themselves the victims of copyright law than its beneficiaries – especially musicians from indigenous communities, or from the global south, or from impoverished communities in the global north. This is at least partly due to what Okediji called copyright’s “literary bias”. Copyright law was initially created to deal with written works and only somewhat uneasily transposed to the realm of music. Since then, the question of what is copyrightable in a work of music has tended to repeat this literary bias by favouring those elements that can easily be represented in writing – that is, for the most part, the melody and the harmony. The dots on the stave. But this is a prejudice catastrophically unfit for purpose when dealing with pop music. It has, in Okediji’s words, “created a hierarchy within creative circles” and “systematically underserved the vast majority of world cultures.”
Innovation, Justice and Globalization
October 17, 2019
The “Innovation, Justice and Globalization” conference, hosted by HLS professor and leading intellectual property scholar Ruth Okediji, brought international academics and policymakers to campus to discuss intellectual property issues.
In Their Own Words
January 29, 2019
From algorithmic price discrimination to intellectual property and human rights to Indian Nations and the Constitution
Harvard Portrait: Ruth Okediji
December 21, 2018
Ruth Okediji, Smith professor of law, traces her enthusiasm for intellectual-property law to a childhood love of literature and storytelling. When she was seven, her family immigrated to New York City from Nigeria. “I had never heard the word ‘race’ and had never been described as a black person,” she recalls. “I just kept feeling this hostility in the private school that my parents sent me to. When I couldn’t make sense of it, I started going to the New York Public Library. The books raised me.”
20 years of the Laws of Cyberspace
May 16, 2018
It’s been two decades since Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig published ‘The Laws of Cyberspace;’ recently, an event at the Berkman Klein Center celebrated how that groundbreaking paper provided structure to the Center's field of study.