Critical Race IP

61 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2017 Last revised: 14 Jul 2018

See all articles by Anjali Vats

Anjali Vats

University of Pittsburgh

Deidre A. Keller

Florida A & M University College of Law

Date Written: October 10, 2017


In this Article, written on the heels of Race IP 2017, a conference we co-organized with Amit Basole and Jessica Silbey, we propose and articulate a theoretical framework for an interdisciplinary movement that we call Critical Race Intellectual Property (Critical Race IP). Specifically, we argue that given trends toward maximalist intellectual property policy, it is now more important than ever to study the racial investments and implications of the laws of copyright, trademark, patent, right of publicity, trade secret, and unfair competition in a manner that draws upon Critical Race Theory (CRT). Situating our argument in a historical context, we articulate the provisional boundaries and core ideological commitments that define Critical Race IP, particularly in contrast with Critical Intellectual Property. After exploring the landscape of this developing area of study through its central themes, we draw upon scholarship on public feelings to demonstrate the importance of community building and intimacy-making practices in the growth of Critical Race IP. Public feelings are an implicit and often under-theorized aspect of intellectual property law that comes to the forefront in engagements with race and colonialism. We conclude with a discussion of Critical Race IP as decolonizing praxis that can aid in anti-racist and anti-colonial struggles.

Keywords: intellectual property, race, copyright, trademark, patent, right of publicity, trade secrets, decoloniality

Suggested Citation

Vats, Anjali and Keller, Deidre A., Critical Race IP (October 10, 2017). Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 36, 2018, Available at SSRN:

Anjali Vats

University of Pittsburgh ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Deidre A. Keller (Contact Author)

Florida A & M University College of Law ( email )

201 Beggs Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
United States


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