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The 50 most influential people in IP 2021

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Managing IP reveals its pick of the top people driving intellectual property law, policy and business this year

The list is in five categories, which you can access individually by clicking the links below. A profile of each person featured can be found in these sections, along with links to separate interviews for some. The full list of names is at the end of each section.


The categories:

21 industry leaders >

9 public officials >

9 judges >

6 IP authorities >

5 notable individuals >

It’s been an interesting year for intellectual property.

In Europe, we had the Brexit aftermath, EPO rulings on computer-implemented simulations and video conferencing, and the throwing out of two constitutional complaints made against the Unified Patent Court in Germany.

In the Americas, Brazil ditched its 10-year patent term guarantee, the US’s patent appeals court hired its first black judge, and the US Supreme Court ruled on judge appointment constitutionality, software copyrightability and assignor estoppel.

And in Asia, India finally closed down its Intellectual Property Appellate Board, China cracked down on junk patent filings and Singapore passed its new copyright law.

If that weren’t enough, there were some huge developments in the artificial intelligence (AI) and pharmaceutical spaces too.

South Africa’s IP office issued the first-ever patent designating an AI tool – DABUS – as an inventor and the machine’s owner as the patent owner. An Australian court became the first judicial forum to allow an AI tool to be listed as an inventor.

President Joe Biden’s administration backed an IP waiver for COVID vaccines, initiating an abrupt policy reversal from former Democratic and Republican administrations.

Once again, we felt it was important to highlight the people responsible for all this change – 50 of them, at least.

It is worth noting that anyone whose main job involves working for a law firm was not eligible for the list; they are rated and ranked in many other places (including IP STARS).

The names were picked by Managing IP’s journalists with some assistance from our readers. The list is not intended as a definitive ranking, but rather the start of a debate, so we have simply organised the top 50 into five categories and then in alphabetical order.

Congratulations to those who featured this year! If you would like to compare this year’s list to 2020’s, click here.

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