Lateef Mtima

Professor of Law

J.D., 1985, Harvard University
B.S., 1982, Amherst College


Lateef Mtima is a Professor of Law at the Howard University School of Law, and the Founder and Director of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice, an accredited NGO member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which advocates for core principles of socially equitable access, inclusion, and empowerment in the development and implementation of the IP ecosystem.

After graduating with honors from Amherst College, Professor Mtima received his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School, where he was the co-founder and later editor-in-chief of the Harvard BlackLetter Journal (today the Harvard Journal on Racial and Ethnic Justice). He is admitted to the New York and Pennsylvania bars and has practiced intellectual property, bankruptcy, and commercial law, including a decade in private practice with the former international law firm of Coudert Brothers. Professor Mtima has testified before the U.S. Congress in support of IP social justice legislation, including the Unleashing American Innovators Act, which President Biden signed into law on December 29, 2022. He has served as a member of the Advisory Council for the United States Court of Federal Claims; President of the Giles S. Rich Inn of Court for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; a member of the BNA Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal Advisory Board, the founding Editorial Board for the ABA intellectual property periodical Landslide;  a Thomas Edison Innovation Law and Policy Fellow, Center for IP x Innovation Policy, Anton Scalia School of Law, and a Distinguished Libra Visiting Scholar in Residence at the University of Maine School of Law. He is currently a member of the Copyright Alliance Advisory Board, the USPTO Patent Pro Bono Advisory Council, and the ALI Practical Lawyer Editorial Board.

Professor Mtima is the co-editor/contributing author of The Cambridge Handbook of Intellectual Property Social Justice (forthcoming 2023); co-author of Transnational Intellectual Property Law (West Academic 2d Edition 2022), and editor/contributing author of Intellectual Property, Social Justice, and Entrepreneurship: From Swords to Ploughshares (Edward Elgar 2015), and has published numerous scholarly and professional articles in the field of intellectual property law.


Overdue legal recognition for African-American artists in ‘Blurred Lines’ copyright case: The Seattle Times
Article discusses why the recent Blurred Lines verdict is not only supported by the copyright law, but is an important development in the field of IP social justice. The article was written by Professors Sean O’Connor and Lateef Mtima, and entertainment attorney Lita Rosario.


“So Dark the CON(TU) of Man: The Quest for a Software Derivative Work Right in Section 117”, 69 U. Pitt. L. R. 1 (forthcoming Fall 2007);

“Natural Law and Positive Social Utility in the Digital Copyright Age” Ad honorem Ion Dogaru: Studii juridice alese 255 (Editura All Beck, Bucuresti 2005);

“Protecting and Licensing Software” Copyright and Common Law Contract Considerations” The Computer & Internet Lawyer, Vol. 22, No. 3, March 2005 at 13; “Tasini and Its Progeny: The New Exclusive Right Or Fair Use on the Electronic Publishing Frontier?”, 14 Fordham Intell. Property, Media & Ent. L. J. 369 (Winter 2004);

“The Road to the Bench: Not Even Good (subliminal) Intentions”, 8 U. Chi. L. Roundtable 135 (2001);

“Protecting Non-literal Elements of Computer Programs: Comparing the Approaches of Whelan and Altai”, Intellectual Property Counselor, No. 36, at 2, December 1999; “African-American Economic Empowerment Strategies for the New Millennium- Revisiting the Washington-Du Bois Dialectic”, 42 Howard Law Journal 391 (1999).