Intellectual Property Law and Food Security
Research Project

Reconceptualising Intellectual Property

This project investigates the formation of a comprehensive new, national-level intellectual property law in Ecuador – the Ingenios Code for the Social Economy of Knowledge, Creativity and Innovation. Of particular interest are the components of this law that relate to issues at the intersection of agriculture, food security, farmers' rights, and intellectual property. Thus, the project focuses primarily on unpacking provisions surrounding patents, plant breeders' rights, access to genetic resources, and equitable benefit sharing. In so doing, the project probes the realm of what previous scholars have termed "unused policy space" that may exist in intellectual property lawmaking.

The essential inquiry is, where and how, given the contemporary landscape of multilateral and bilateral treaty obligations, are countries able to innovate when reshaping national-level intellectual property laws? In other words, how can intellectual property be radically remade to better accommodate local interests while still complying with international obligations? Ultimately, the project contributes to both international legal scholarship and national policymaking initiatives, by helping developing countries to understand how they can realise goals such as agricultural development and farmers' rights through intellectual property laws, in a way that would be meaningful to local populations.