IP & Environmental Law

How does intellectual property impact clean technology innovation and environmentally sustainable development? That’s the central question we examine in this course. The class begins by framing intellectual property issues within the global governance framework. It then explores a series of thematic subtopics:

  • Does IP facilitate the invention of clean technologies, and their diffusion around the world?
  • What is the role of IP in conserving or sharing the benefits of biodiversity?
  • How does IP restrict or enable access to plants’ genetic resources for food and agriculture?
  • Which laws govern IP rights and potential liabilities regarding technological innovations?

Students in the course engage in interactive classroom discussion and actively participate in a simulation of international negotiations. Grades are based on the IP and Environmental Law take-home exam due six weeks following our last class, which requires to students to choose and answer one of several alternate questions.


The IP Environment

Before we can understand how intellectual property policies impact the environment and sustainable development, we need to define what those terms mean. Read more.

Clean Technology Transfer

Third, we’ll talk about how patents and other IP rights could facilitate or frustrate eco-innovation, and impact the diffusion of clean technologies globally. Read more.

Benefits of Biodiversity

In our second lesson, we evaluate strategies to equitably allocate the benefits of the world’s biodiversity (i.e. “life on earth”), most of which is concentrated in developing countries. Read more.

Farming for Food/Fuel

Agricultural biotechnologies have the potential to make people’s lives better. But there’s controversy over the complex issues triggered by these technologies. Read more.