School of Law

Professor Graham Dutfield

Professor of International Governance

I am a member of the IPBio Network based here at Leeds, and previously served on the scientific advisory board of a Canadian synthetic biology project called PhytoMetaSyn. I have a DPhil from Oxford University.

I present my research around the world, and have given lectures at various prestigious institutions including University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Harvard University, Yale University, Boston University, Osgoode Hall Law School (Canada), NALSAR (India), and the World Bank. In July 2016 I gave an invited lecture at the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court of Thailand before the Chief Justice and over fifty judges.

I have also advised governments including those of Brazil, Ghana, Namibia, Saint Lucia and Zambia, as well as the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry of the South African Parliament.

I have been quoted in The Economist, Science, the Times of India, the Wall Street Journal, and the web editions of ABC News and CNN. Most recently I was cited in the World Intellectual Property Report 2015 of the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization, and in the Final Report of the United Nations Secretary General's High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines.

Research Interests

My research on intellectual property crosses several disciplines, including law, history, politics, economics and anthropology. More general scholarly interests include the law, science and business of creativity and technical innovation from the enlightenment to the present, especially in the life sciences. 

Other research areas include intellectual property and access to knowledge, human rights, sustainable development, health, agriculture, genetics, biotechnology, traditional knowledge and folklore, bioprospecting, and indigenous peoples' rights.  For further information on my research with some downloadable papers, please see my profile on


I teach mainly on the LLM in Intellectual Property Law.

PhD Supervision

I have been external examiner for 27 PhDs in law and in other disciplines including anthropology (UCL), geosciences (Sydney), and theology (Oxford). I have acted as principal supervisor for ten doctoral students who successfully completed. These are as follows, with their topics:

  • Protection of biodiversity and traditional knowledge in Cameroon and South Africa (TM Marcelin)
  • Historical intellectual property jurisprudence in China (K Shao)
  • The FAO plant genetic resources treaty (M Lightbourne)
  • The politics of negotiating intellectual property and public health provisions in free trade agreements (J von Braun)
  • Intellectual property and agricultural biotechnology partnerships in India and Kenya (L Muraguri)
  • History of patent law in India (R Sagar)
  • Regulation of traditional medicine in India, China and Malaysia (CS Goh).
  • Protection of traditional knowledge in Nigeria (N Ogbonna)
  • Traditional knowledge and notions of justice (T Mordi)
  • Regulating biobanks in Mexico (L Soto Gomez)

Prospective students interested in pursuing research matching my scholarly and research interests are welcome to make informal enquiries.

Key Publications


  • Knowledge Management and Intellectual Property Concepts, Actors and Practices from the Past to the Present, ed. by Dutfield G and Arapostathis S (Edward Elgar Pub, 2013)

    Author URL []

    Essential reading, not just for IP historians and lawyers, but for anyone concerned at the insidious corporate take-over of modern life.

  • Intellectual property and human development: Current trends and future scenarios, ed. by Dutfield G and Wong T (Cambridge University Press, 2012), 1-397
    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511761027

    Review in nature biotechnology by Philip Grubb "A patently negative view of industry" -

    Author URL []

    © Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors 2011. Copyright, the category of intellectual property (IP) most associated with the arts, is currently undergoing scrutiny from several sectors. Industry-oriented copyright owners, like music labels, are lobbying for more control of their songs. At the same time that digital rights management models are being reworked, the public is demanding greater access and less cost for copyrighted works. Authors and artists (who are not necessarily owners of their copyrighted work) are, ironically, not at the centre of this debate, although it is usually their creations over which these other parties are debating. Indeed, the individual artist working in today's IP environment has a different set of concerns than does the agency that commodifies his or her work. The legal interests of creators and the legal interests of copyright holders can be very different, and many of the legal issues at stake (e.g. moral rights) are highly dependent upon the jurisdiction in which the artist is working. The following sections describe some of the situations where contemporary artists face challenging IP issues, including jurisdictional inconsistencies. For these purposes, ‘contemporary art’ comprises visual and multimedia creative expressions made after the Second World War.

  • Dutfield GM, Intellectual Property Rights and the Life Science Industries: Past, Present and Future, Second (World Scientific, 2009)

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  • Dutfield G, Suthersanen U, Global Intellectual Property Law (Edward Elgar, 2008)

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  • Innovation without patents: Harnessing the creative spirit in a diverse world, ed. by Dutfield G, Suthersanen U and Chow KB (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2007)

    Review in the Journal Intellectual Property Law and Practice by philippe de Jong "A new world view" -

    Author URL []

    Focusing on innovation and development, this book, easy to read and full of interesting detail, provides both valuable insight into the theoretical framework of innovation as supported by intellectual property protection and contains valuable case studies of national systems of innovation in the Pacific Rim States. - Thomas Dreier, University of Karlsruhe, Germany. This book is concerned with the extent to which innovations should or should not be protected as intellectual property, and the implications this has upon the ability of local manufacturers to learn to innovate. © The Editors and Contributors Severally 2007. All rights reserved.

  • Dutfield G, Intellectual Property, Biogenetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge (Earthscan, 2004), xiii,258p

  • Dutfield G, Intellectual Property Rights and the Life Science Industries: A Twentieth Century History (Ashgate, 2003), ix,288p

  • Trading in knowledge: Development perspectives on TRIPS, trade and sustainability, ed. by Dutfield G, Bellmann C and Meléndez-Ortiz R (Routledge, 2003), 1-358
    DOI: 10.4324/9781849773447

    Review in World Trade Review 3.02 (July 2004) by Cynthia Cannady "North–South trade in intellectual property: can it be fair?" -

    © International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), 2003. An unprecedented surge in the scope and level of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection has been engulfing the world. This globalizing trend has shifted the balance of interests between private innovators and society at large and tensions have flared around key public policy concerns. As developing nations' policy options to use IPRs in support of their broader development strategy are being rapidly narrowed down, many experts are questioning the one-size-fits-all approach to IPR protection and are backing a rebalancing of the global regime. Developing countries face huge challenges when designing and implementing IPR-policy on all levels. This book offers perspectives from a diverse range of developing country participants including civil society participants, farmers, grassroots organizations, researchers and government officials. Contributions from well-known developed country authorities round out the selections.

Journal articles

  • Dutfield G, ‘Healthcare innovation and patent law's 'pharmaceutical privilege': Is there a pharmaceutical privilege? And if so, should we remove it?’, Health Economics, Policy and Law, 12.4 (2017), 453-470
    DOI: 10.1017/S1744133117000111, Repository URL:

    © 2017 Cambridge University Press. This article reviews current trends in patent claims regarding personalised, stratified and precision medicine. These trends are not particularly well understood by policymakers, even less by the public, and are quite recent. Consequently, their implications for the public interest have hardly been thought out. Some see personalised and other secondary drug patent claims as promoting better targeted treatment. Others are inclined to see them as \manifestations of 'evergreening' whereby companies are, in some cases quite cynically, trying to extend market monopolies in old products or creating new monopolies based on supposedly improved versions of such earlier drugs. The article claims that the relaxation of 'novelty' is a privilege unavailable to inventions in other fields and that on balance the patent system does privilege this industry and that no adequate case has yet been made thus far to prove the public benefits overall.

  • Dutfield G, ‘Who invented glivec? Does it matter anyway?’, Economic and Political Weekly, 48.32 (2013), 41-42

    This article looks at Glivec's journey from its invention to its patenting and sale while questioning the concept of credit for inventions in science and technology.

  • Dutfield GM, ‘Collective Invention and Patent Law Individualism: Origins and Functions of the Inventor’s Right of Attribution’, The WIPO Journal, 5.1 (2013), 25-34

  • Dutfield GM, ‘Transboundary Resources, Consent and Customary Law’, Law, Environment and Development Journal 2013, 259-263

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    This brief commentary focuses on the unresolved access and benefit sharing (ABS) challenges of transboundary resources and situations where getting prior informed consent is not possible. In the absence of the global mechanism envisaged by the Nagoya Protocol, satisfactory ABS deals can still be struck but these are unlikely to be either common or effective in generating substantial benefits for the indigenous peoples. The commentary closes by underlining the moral imperative of ensuring that traditional knowledge and genetic resource users comply with the laws and customary practices established by indigenous groups rather than simply impose their own norms. However, there are many legal and conceptual obstacles to be overcome first.

  • Dutfield GM, ‘Patent on Steroids: What Hormones Tell Us about the Evolution of Patent Law’, Intellectual Property Journal, 23.3 (2011), 249-266

    The hormones era from 1900 to the 1960s was a period of intensifying pharmaceutical industry internationalisation and competition within and across national boundaries. Patents and patent strategy were essential aspects of this evolutionary process. Hormones are chemical messengers produced by living organisms including humans. They form a wide range of products from anti-inflammatories to contraceptives. As soon as hormones were found to have commercial potential, industry faced the challenge of how to mass-produce them. This was obviously a scientific matter, but it was also a business issue and an intellectual property one. Both production pathways of extraction and hormone synthesis turned out to be equally capable of resulting in patentable subject matter. This was so even when said matter was based on a substance produced by an organism or else was a laboratory-produced copy of one. This set a historic precedent for the patenting of “natural” things like antibiotics, genes, cells, microbes, plants and animals. Thus, the patenting of hormones helped allow us to conceive of biotechnological products as patentable inventions.

  • Dutfield GM, ‘Who invents life – blind watchmakers, intelligent designers or genetic engineers?’, Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice, 5.7 (2010), 531-540

  • Dutfield G, ‘Delivering drugs to the poor: will the TRIPS Amendment help?’, Am J Law Med, 34.2-3 (2008), 107-124

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  • Dutfield GM, ‘The Limits of Substantive Patent Law Harmonization’, in Patent Law in Global Perspective, ed. by Okediji RL and Bagley MA (Oxford Universiry Press, 2014)
    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199334278.003.0005

    Patent law harmonization at the level of principles, rules, and institutional structures is a highly ambitious goal. Its practical intent is to facilitate secure patent coverage on a global scale and for the longest period possible, and to accelerate and cheapen the process of attaining it. Economically the stakes are very high, not just for businesses but also for nations. Generally speaking, harmonization based on high protection standards benefits leading innovator countries and large businesses already enjoying strong market power assisted by their ownership of sizeable intellectual property portfolios. Follower nations and businesses seeking to enhance their innovation levels prefer, understandably, to maintain a greater freedom to copy than such harmonization would allow. This chapter reviews recent harmonization efforts at the international level and explains their lack of success despite the apparent economic and political dominance of advocates and the relative weakness of opponents.

  • Dutfield G, ‘Geographical indications and agricultural community development: Is the European model appropriate for developing countries?’, in The Intellectual Property and Food Project: From Rewarding Innovation and Creation to Feeding the World, ed. by Lawson C and Sanderson J (Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2013), 175-200

  • Dutfield GM, ‘The genetic code is 3.6 billion years old: it’s time for a rewrite’: Questioning the metaphors and analogies of synthetic biology and life science patenting’, in New Frontiers in the Philosophy of Intellectual Property (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, [n.d.]), 172-202

Media Contact Areas

  • Intellectual property rights
  • Patents
  • Bioprospecting and biopiracy
  • Biotechnology law
  • Intellectual property and emerging technologies

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