FACULTY MEMORANDUM ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Updated September 2011
Faculty: Michael Carrier, Ellen Goodman, Greg Lastowka
Adjunct Faculty: Jane Massey Licata, William McNichol, Jr.
Intellectual property encompasses property that is not tangible: patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. Given the increasing prevalence of IP in our information based economy, and the explosion of new fields such as biotechnology and information technology, exposure to the field would be helpful for all students. Students who are considering pursuing a career in the field should take the introductory survey course, Intellectual Property, and should seriously consider the courses offered in the area of IP in which they intend to practice.
Intellectual Property presents an overview of each of the areas listed above (patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret), and discusses unfair competition and the relationship between intellectual property and antitrust. In addition to the specific classes listed below, students might also consider taking Antitrust, since some patent and copyright infringement lawsuits involve antitrust counterclaims and since the IP laws (which offer a right to exclude) often come into conflict with the antitrust laws (which may condemn such exclusion). Also, because of the prevalence of licensing, the first year course on Contracts may prove helpful. Finally, because of the statutory basis for IP law, students may wish to take courses allowing them to hone techniques of statutory construction.
Given the meteoric rise of the Internet, students may also consider taking Cyberlaw. This course covers a number of novel legal questions arising when computer users carry out various social, economic, and political transactions through the interconnection of computing and communications technologies. The focus of this course is on two interrelated areas of the law that cyberspace may be shaping in profound ways: (1) the scope of the right of privacy for those participating in an apparently public forum like cyberspace, and (2) the legal setting developed thus far concerning speech rights in cyberspace. Related questions involve cyberspace as a tool of commerce. Topics discussed in the course may include the use of click wrap electronic contract formation, copyright protection of software and digital music transmissions, government versus private sector management of electronic commerce, software sales and open source code licensing, and workplace issues that arise in cyberspace.
Patent Law addresses the statutory basis of patent law and the case law concerning patentability and enforceability of patent rights. The impact of the regulation of drugs, devices and biologics by the US Food and Drug Administration and antitrust law are also considered. Patent Law II, which includes 3 writing credits, focuses on patent licensing and enforcement. A patent license agreement, opinion letter, and brief are drafted for this course. The Patent Prosecution seminar focuses on the skills of patent application drafting and patent prosecution practice. Multiple writing exercises—including claim drafting, application writing, and amendments—are a part of this course.