The mission of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice (IIPSJ) is to advance the political, social, and economic empowerment of historically disadvantaged and excluded groups through facilitating their creation, use, and exploitation of intellectual property.
IIPSJ was founded in 2002 to address the social justice implications of intellectual property law and practice both domestically and globally. IIPSJ's work ranges broadly and includes scholarly examination of intellectual property law from the social justice perspective; advocacy for social-justice aware interpretation, application, and revision of intellectual property law; efforts to increase the diversity of the those who practice IP law; and development of programs to empower historically and currently disadvantaged and under-included groups to exploit IP effectively.
IIPSJ emphasizes aspects of intellectual property law and practice that impact the participation of historically and currently disadvantaged and under-included groups in the economic, cultural and social benefits of developing, exploiting, and enjoying the fruits of intellectual property.
A significant part of IIPSJ, Inc.'s, work involves educating lawyers and law students about the social justice dimensions of IP legal work. In particular, through the IIPSJ at Howard University School of Law (IIPSJ at HUSL) program, IIPSJ Inc., emphasizes the leadership role of lawyers, particularly corporate and commercial attorneys, in addressing the problems of intellectual property and information technology disparity and the related, ongoing problems of institutionalized racial and economic inequities.
Another part of IIPSJ, Inc.'s work is the examination of IP law itself to assess how it impacts social justice. IIPSJ, Inc., is creating an IP and social justice law library to serve as a resource to provide information on these issues without prospective users needing to pay a subscription fee to what is, for some users, a prohibitively expensive service.
IIPSJ, Inc., raises funds for and otherwise supports its programs including inparticular IIPSJ at HUSL and the IP Empowerment Summit.
The Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice (IIPSJ) was created in the summer and fall of 2002 by Prof. Lateef Mtima, IIPSJ's first director. Working closely with him throughout the process was Prof. Steven Jamar, IIPSJ's first associate director. The first major program of IIPSJ was the establishment in the fall of 2002 of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice at Howard University School of Law (IIPSJ at HUSL). It is the first Institute created within the Howard University School of Law.
IIPSJ's first efforts included (1) advising HUSL on revising its curriculum to better prepare lawyers for a modern IP practice,(2) hosting an IP and social justice academic symposium in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education in 2004, (3) mentoring students in IP, and(4) the initiation of a series of annual Continuing Legal Education conferences beginning in 2003. IIPSJ assisted students in organizing the IP Student Association at HUSL and brought in outside speakers to help HUSL students prepare for an IP practice.
As the IIPSJ at HUSL programs of IIPSJ became more institutionalized, IIPSJ developed plans to expand its programs beyond HUSL and the CLE. Mtima and Jamar recognized that to do so effectively, IIPSJ would need to be more formally structured. Therefore, in summer 2005 IIPSJ was incorporated as the as a not-for-profit corporation called the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice , Inc., (IIPSJ, Inc.) to add flexibility in supporting the initiatives of IIPSJ at HUSL as well as to develop and conduct programs outside of the HUSL context. (501(c)(3) status is pending.)
In 2007 IIPSJ, Inc., increased its efforts with respect to contributing to the national discourse on IP issues through testimony and submissions to governmental bodies, through participation in online fora, and through increased presentations and presence at both practitioner and academic IP conferences. SInce 2009 IIPSJ, Inc., has submitted position statements on the Google Books Settlement and other governmental actions and proposals in the IP field. It has continued to support increased participation by Mtima and Jamar and others in academic analysis and scholarship on IP issues.
In 2009 IIPSJ, Inc., sponsored its first IIPSJ Fellow and in 2010 is sponsoring an IIPSJ Fellow-in Residence as it seeks to increase its impact.
In 2010 IIPSJ, Inc., established the IIPSJ Think Tank, the first and only think tank dedicated to examining the social justice implications of the IP regime, broadly considered.
Throughout its existence, IIPSJ has worked to establish community-based programs supporting IP development and entrepreneurship. This aspect has grown significantly since 2009 with national conferences, scholarship, networking, and developing contacts and partners for this work.