PUBLISHED:October 28, 2011

Rai receives World Technology Award for Law

Arti K. Rai, Duke’s Elvin R. Latty Professor of Law, received the prestigious World Technology Award for Law on Oct. 26. The World Technology Awards are given annually to 20 individuals and 10 organizations who are “doing the innovative work of ‘the greatest likely long-term significance’ in their fields,” according to the World Technology Network (WTN) website. “They are those creating the 21st century.”

Rai received the award during a ceremony at the United Nations, at the conclusion of the World Technology Summit.

"It's a pleasure to be in the company of so many groundbreaking scientists and technologists," she said.

Rai is an authority in patent law, administrative law, and innovation policy, whose research on innovation policy in areas such as synthetic biology, green technology, drug development, and software has been funded by NIH, the Kauffman Foundation, and Chatham House.

From 2009-2010, Rai took a leave of absence from Duke Law School to serve as the administrator of the Office of External Affairs at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where she played a key role in advocating for the America Invents Act, the sweeping patent reform bill enacted by Congress in September. Prior to that time, she had served on President-Elect Obama’s transition team reviewing the USPTO and as an expert advisor to the Department of Commerce’s Office of General Counsel.

During a recent lecture at Duke Law School, David Kappos, under secretary of commerce and director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, called Rai “my partner in transforming the U.S. Patent office from the very beginning.”

“It’s fair to say that I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it weren’t for Arti’s encouragement and partnership for so many years,” he said.

Her work on intellectual property in synthetic biology and green technology includes editing Intellectual Property Law and Biotechnology: Critical Concepts (Edward Elgar, 2011) and co-authoring Intellectual Property and Alternatives: Strategies for Green Innovation (Chatham House, 2008) with Richard Newell and Duke professors Jerome Reichman and Jonathan B. Wiener. She currently is a principal investigator on a project funded by the National Institutes of Health studying “genomics as information,” with a focus on synthetic biology.

Prior to entering academia, Rai clerked for the Honorable Marilyn Hall Patel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California; was a litigation associate at Jenner & Block (doing patent litigation as well as other litigation); and was a litigator at the Federal Programs Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Division.

Rai has served as a peer reviewer for Science, Research Policy, the Journal of Legal Studies, various National Academy of Sciences reports on intellectual property, and various NIH study sections. She has also testified before Congress on innovation policy issues and regularly advises federal agencies on policy issues (including intellectual property policy issues) raised by the research that they fund. Recently, her work has focused on advising the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Rai is currently the chair of the Intellectual Property Committee of the Administrative Law Section of the American Bar Association. She is also a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

The WTN is a curated, global membership community comprised of peer-selected leaders in the science and technology world. The organization has over 1,000 members spread out over 60 countries, in 20 different categories of endeavor.

Rai is the second Duke Law professor to win a World Technology Award for Law. In 2003, James Boyle won the award for his work on the theory and practice of protecting the “intellectual ecology” of the public domain — the ideas and expressions that are free for all to use or build upon.