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Join the Center for Law, Innovation and Creativity (CLIC) for an interdisciplinary conversation exploring the racial gap in invention and patenting in the past and present, considering how IP regimes have been used to exploit BIPOC intellect and creatorship and what is needed to reverse this historic inequity and use IP regimes to develop a more equitable society. 

In the 21st century, Black Americans make up an estimated 0.3% of US-born innovators.  In 1857, an enslaved blacksmith named Ned used his skills and creativity to design an improved plow. The efforts of his enslaver to patent Ned’s invention led to a formal statement by the US attorney general that no inventions of African Americans, enslaved or free, were eligible for patent protection.  The Ned Project explores this historic injustice and traces its effects to this current gap in innovation, invention and patenting.  In brief presentations and a panel discussion, with opportunity for audience participation, this event opens a shared discussion about IP and restorative justice. 

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Speakers include:

Akiba Abaka  
Artist entrepreneur; creative producer at ArtsEmerson; founder and artistic director of the former Up You Mighty Race Company.

Luke Blackadar '14
Director of Legal Services, Arts & Business Council

Shontavia Johnson
Licensed patent attorney; host of The Shontavia Show; founder of Brand+Business Academy; associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation at Clemson University

Timothy M. Kobba ’22

Abby Plummer ’22

Kara W. Swanson
Professor of Law and History, Northeastern University

This Black History Month event is sponsored by The Ned Project, a joint restorative justice project of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) and the Center for Law, Innovation and Creativity (CLIC) at Northeastern University School of Law.   

  • Aimee Williams
  • Kristin Ader
  • Daunte Pean

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