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Advocating for intellectual property rights to enhance human rights

Unisa’s Professor Mikhalien Du Bois was recently recognised as an established researcher whose body of work in intellectual property rights demonstrates impactful research.

Professor Mikhalien Du Bois is thrilled about her recent C2 National Research Foundation (NRF) rating. It is her steady and methodological planning, body of work, and always keeping the golden thread of her research in mind which has led her to be a C2-rated researcher, a recognition of her work which she says is fulfilling.

The NRF rating system is a key driver in the NRF’s aim to build a globally competitive science system in South Africa. It is also a valuable tool for benchmarking the quality of South African researchers against the best in the world. The ratings are allocated based on a researcher’s recent research outputs and impact as perceived by international peer reviewers. A C2 rating in this instance recognises her as an established researcher whose research outputs enjoy international recognition.

Professor Mikhalien Du Bois

Du Bois’ research field is constitutional property law and intellectual property law while her focus in the field has been on individual aspects of intellectual property law that require constitutional interpretation or intervention. Within this focus, she pursues the analysis of some of the constitutional aspects inherent in intellectual property rights and promotes the vision that intellectual property rights should be developed to enhance fundamental human rights such as the right to (access to) healthcare, education, and freedom of expression.

Asked what inspired her to pursue research in this field, Du Bois mentions first her LLD supervisor, Professor André van der Walt as well as an interest in intellectual property law; she also adds: “and the good fortune to have been accepted into the South African Research Chair in Property Law group where I undertook my LLD studies which provided a sound research foundation for the area of constitutional property law”.

Du Bois’ research highlights and achievements include completing her LLD dissertation as an NRF bursary recipient with the South African Research Chair in Property Law under the supervision of Professor André van der Walt and presenting some of her research at the Interdisciplinary and International Association for Law, Property, and Society’s annual conferences.

The promotion of intellectual property rights in a developing country like South Africa where many previously disadvantaged people have suffered the misfortune of not getting fully compensated for their work is critically important. Recent events for example of artists in the country fighting over full rights or compensation for their intellectual property are good examples of why Du Bois’ research, which seeks to promote that intellectual property rights should be developed to enhance fundamental human rights, is important.

South Africa, and perhaps Africa, has a high record of businesses, creative individuals and artists who are exploited because unlike other human rights, intellectual property rights are not promoted and therefore unknown by many, the underprivileged especially. Du Bois’ vision therefore plays a critical role in society. Through this research output, Unisa is advancing the realisation of excellent research and innovative solutions that address important societal challenges.

*By Tshimangadzo Mphaphuli, Senior Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement


Publish date: 2021/07/20