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Ruth L. Okediji

Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Ruth L. Okediji is a renowned scholar in international intellectual property (IP) law and a foremost authority on the role of intellectual property in social and economic development.

Professor Okediji’s scholarship focuses on the international regulatory environment for knowledge goods, innovation policy and global knowledge governance. She has authored an extensive array of articles, commissioned papers and book chapters on the international patent system, international copyright law, technology transfer and economic development. Professor Okediji has served as a policy advisor to many inter-governmental organizations, regional economic communities and national governments on the formulation of copyright and patent policies, and on institutional design choices related to IP administration. Her work has served to guide and influence government policies in sub-Saharan Africa, the Carribbean and Latin America on national strategies for the implementation of the WTO's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement).

From 2011 to 2012, Professor Okediji was a member of the National Academies' Board on Science, Technology and Policy Committee on the Impact of Copyright Policy on Innovation in the Digital Era. In 2013, she served as the Chief Technical Expert and Lead Negotiator for the Delegation of Nigeria to the WIPO Diplomatic Conference to Conclude a Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities (Marrakesh VIP Treaty). In this capacity, she also provided technical assistance to the 54 member states of the Africa Group. Professor Okediji works closely with several United Nations agencies, regional inter-governmental organizations and national governments on various aspects of innovation and IP policy, including access to knowledge, access to essential medicines and issues related to indigenous innovation systems.

Over the course of her career, Professor Okediji has received numerous teaching and service awards. In 2013, she received the Stanley V. Kinyon Tenured Professor Award for the best tenured professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. Professor Okediji has previously received awards from other law schools, including the Professor Most Likely To Go Beyond the Call of Duty, the Regents Superior Teaching Award and the Student Bar Association’s Outstanding Professor Award. She regularly serves on doctoral committees at the University of British Columbia, Duke University Law School, the University of Toronto and the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland. She has taught at Emory Law School, Duke University School of Law, the University of Haifa Law School (Israel), and University of Tilburg Law School (The Netherlands) and as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto. The Curatorium of the Hague Academy of International Law recently selected Professor Okediji to teach at its 2018 session in Paris, France.

Professor Okediji is a graduate of the University of Jos and Harvard Law School.


Harvard Law Today

Faculty share stories of an intellectual about-face

Jonathan Zittrain moderates an event centered around reckoning with changing one's mind. Ruth Okediji, one of the panelists, describes her own experience: "I had to begin to…

Apr 4, 2024
Harvard Law Today

Addressing the epidemic of high drug prices

Ruth Okediji discusses the Biden administration's recent proposal to use federal "march-in" rights to lower drug costs.

Jan 5, 2024

'Steamboat Willie' is now in the public domain. What does that mean for Mickey Mouse?

Ruth Okediji discusses "Steamboat Willy" and protection of the public domain.

Jan 1, 2024
Harvard Law Today

What is fair use in the age of AI?

Ruth Okediji moderated a Rappaport Forum on what's at stake with the rise of Artificial Intelligence.

Nov 2, 2023
Harvard Law Today

Waiving COVID vaccine patent rights? It’s complicated

Terry Fisher and Ruth Okediji propose changes to bolster global south’s ability to produce pharmaceuticals

May 4, 2021
Harvard Law Today

For Prof. Ruth Okediji, ‘grievous’ Capitol insurrection holds hopeful lessons

Ruth Okediji reflects on the attacks on the U.S. Capitol, the state of democracy, and the role of digital technologies in politics today.

Jan 19, 2021
Harvard Law Today

Ruth Okediji encourages the graduating class to cultivate the courage to try something new

The Harvard Law Professor and BKC director’s "Last Lecture"

May 20, 2020
Harvard Law Today

Innovation, Justice and Globalization

From patent law to the challenges facing the digital commons, leading academics and policymakers from around the world discussed intellectual property issues at Harvard Law School…

Oct 17, 2019
Harvard Magazine

Harvard Portrait: Ruth Okediji

Ruth Okediji, Smith professor of law, traces her enthusiasm for intellectual-property law to a childhood love of literature and storytelling.

Dec 21, 2018


Writing Group: Law: Christianity and the Law - Spring 2024

For more information visit the Harvard Law School Course Catalog.

Legal Profession - Spring 2024

This course will examine the rules and standards of professional responsibility and legal ethics with a focus on how the study and practice of law shape the professional identity…

Contracts 1 - Fall 2023

This course will provide a comprehensive study of the law that governs enforceable promises. It begins with a study of the sources of contract law and the concept of ‘mutual…

Contracts 1 - Fall 2020

Professor Ruth Okediji This course will provide a comprehensive study of the law that governs enforceable promises. It begins with a study of the sources of contract law and…

Patent Law - Fall 2020

Professor William Fisher, Professor Ruth Okediji Roughly half of this course will examine and assess the legal rules in the United States and other countries governing patents…

Christian Legal Perspectives - Fall 2020

Professor Ruth Okediji This seminar will explore the role of faith and Biblical Christianity in shaping contemporary legal approaches to a variety of subjects including the…

Introduction to Intellectual Property Law - Fall 2019

Professor Ruth L. Okediji  This is an introductory course on intellectual property (IP). It will cover the major justifications for the principal forms of IP (patents,…


Apr 18, 2023 @ 12:00 PM

Copyright, Text Mining and AI Training

4/18: A conversation presented by the University of Ottawa AI + Society Initiative and BKC, with the UOttawa Centre for Law, Technology and Society

4/18: Faith  Majekolagbe, Michael Geist, and Ruth Okediji discuss copyright issues  and recent developments regarding text and data mining.

Sep 19, 2022 @ 5:00 PM

The Future of Online Lending: A Discussion of Controlled Digital Lending and Hachette with the Internet Archive

Join us for a discussion with Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive, about the pending Hachette v. Internet Archive case and the future of digital libraries

Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive, spoke about the pending Hachette v. Internet Archive case and the future of digital libraries. Kahle was…

Oct 1, 2021 @ 12:00 PM

Protecting and Promoting AI Innovation: Patent Eligibility Reform as an Imperative for National Security and Innovation

Three Part Virtual Symposium - Security, Privacy, and Innovation: Reshaping Law for the AI Era

VIDEO: Security, Privacy, AI, Law

Apr 16, 2018 @ 4:00 PM

Force of Nature

Celebrating 20 Years of the Laws of Cyberspace

Join us as we celebrate 20 years of the Laws of Cyberspace and the ways in which it laid the groundwork for our Center's field of study.