PUBLISHED:July 08, 2016

Rai co-authors first set of ethical guidelines for Intellectual Property scholars

Arti Rai, the Elvin R. Latty Professor of Law and co-director of Duke’s Center for Innovation Policy, has joined with three other distinguished intellectual property scholars to craft a set of ethical norms for legal scholarship in their field. Rai and Professors Robin Feldman (UC Hastings), Mark A. Lemley (Stanford), and Jonathan Masur (University of Chicago) cite their concern about the increasing influx of corporate and private funding into empirical and policy research as motivation for writing the "Open Letter on Ethical Norms in Intellectual Property Scholarship,” to which more than 40 other academics had also signed on when it was published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology in early July.

The letter promotes three related objectives:  

"The first is transparency: members of the academic community should disclose any monetary or related inducements that might have the potential to influence scholarly research or create the perception that scholarly research has been unduly influenced. The second is to reduce the potential for overt or subconscious bias to affect scholarly research. Members of the academic community should seek wherever possible to minimize or eliminate outside influences that might inject bias or the appearance of bias into research. The third is to facilitate replicability and examination of existing work by requiring, to the fullest extent possible, the disclosure of the data underlying it."

The authors provide additional detailed norms for the IP field, and pledge to follow them themselves. These include:

·         Disclosure of funding sources for research projects, relevant consulting and representation agreements, and funding for related institutions;

·         Refusal to engage in quid pro quo arrangements or accept funding where prior approval of findings is required;

·         Disclosure of underlying data for purposes of research replication;

·         Working with a spirit of collegiality and open inquiry;

·         Striving for diverse funding sources for institutions and identification of donors; and

·         Promotion of continued development and adoption of ethical norms in intellectual property scholarship.

Read the full letter here.

Rai is an internationally recognized expert in intellectual property (IP) law, administrative law, and health policy. From 2009-2010, Rai served as the Administrator of the Office of External Affairs at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Prior to that time, she had served on President-Elect Obama’s transition team reviewing the USPTO.