From Swords to Ploughshares
Elgar Law and Entrepreneurship series
Edited by Lateef Mtima
Chapter 3: Intellectual property as an essential 21st century business asset
In Chapter 1 of this book, the social justice theory of intellectual property law was introduced as one that “acknowledges socially equitable inclusion, access, and empowerment as fundamental objectives of intellectual property protection”. Further, it was suggested that this theory should be operationalized through the construction of a social action platform, ideally modeled after the American Civil Rights Movement, and “similarly directed toward the frustrations with (i) the perennial lack of individual economic opportunities and (ii) the historic and ongoing misappropriation of inner-city urban and other indigenous culture and knowledge, and presented as an avenue toward personal economic autonomy and communal socio-economic empowerment”. In 2013, as the United States of America marked the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a watershed moment for the Civil Rights Movement, we were led to reflect both on the victories won through that movement and the challenges that still remain. In fact, in the 50 years since the March on Washington, the three-pronged strategy of the Civil Rights Movement – legal action, social activism and individual empowerment – has effectively improved access to educational and employment opportunities that have raised the standard of living for many of those who have been historically marginalized, including countless African Americans. Since 1963, the percentage of blacks with a college degree has increased five-fold while the percentage of blacks living in poverty has fallen by nearly half.
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