Curriculum Guide · Curriculum
Intellectual Property, Entertainment, and Technology Law
Intellectual property law - the framework of laws governing the rights arising from intellectual creation, invention, or discovery - is becoming an increasingly important area of study as intellectual property comes to constitute a larger and larger proportion of this country's assets and gross national product, and to account for a growing volume of international trade. The enormous economic importance of intellectual property and the rapid pace of technological innovation have created pressures to make intellectual property protection more comprehensive and effective. Congress has enacted major new intellectual property legislation in eight of the last twelve years. In addition, rapid advances in computer, communications, and biomedical technology have spurred other types of legislation and regulation, and have raised questions about the applicability of existing laws to new problems. As a result of all this activity, there are growing numbers of transactions, disputes, and regulatory policy problems that require the attention of attorneys with specialized legal training and experience. Finally, recent expansions of intellectual property protection have spurred attention to the constitutional and public interest implications of laws granting ownership rights in information.
Broadly speaking, intellectual property law seeks to encourage private investment in technological, artistic, and other types of information-related innovation. As an incentive, the law confers certain rights on the producers of valuable innovations. Because absolute monopolies in information and ideas are perceived to be against the public interest, however, intellectual property rights are limited in scope; many intellectual property-related disputes concern the nature and extent of these limitations. Intellectual property law has four central components: patent, trade secrecy, copyright, and trademark/unfair competition law. Each protects a different species of intellectual creation: Patent protection is available for functional or utilitarian processes, methods of operation, or products; trade secrecy law protects a wide range of other useful information that bestows commercial advantage on its owner; copyright protects the expressive content of original works of authorship; and trademark/unfair competition law protects the commercial value of information regarding the source of goods or services.
The issues encompassed by "entertainment law" and "technology law" are even more varied. Entertainment law practice is heavily centered around intellectual property law, particularly copyright and trademark/unfair competition law, but also requires considerable familiarity with communications law and labor/employment issues. Technology law practice may focus on any number of issues, ranging from intellectual property to computer crime to communications or biomedical regulatory policy to civil rights/civil liberties problems raised by genetic research or by efforts to regulate internet use.
A. Basic Intellectual Property and Technology-Focused Courses.
The Law Center offers basic courses covering the core disciplines of intellectual property law. In some years, the Law Center also offers a survey course designed to give a broad overview of the entire field. The survey course, however, is not intended for the student who wishes to specialize in intellectual property or entertainment law practice. Although students are permitted to take the survey class and one or more of the other introductory classes, that decision is not recommended because of the high degree of overlap between them.
B. Specialized Areas of Practice
There are many different types of intellectual property and technology practices, each requiring different skills. The following subsections are designed to give students some idea of the different types of law practice opportunities available, and to indicate the law school background that would be helpful for each. The faculty would like to stress, however, that this information is intended to be suggestive rather than prescriptive. In particular, students who are not sure which aspect of intellectual property and technology practice most appeals to them are encouraged to sample courses from within several (or all) of these areas.
1. Obtaining Intellectual Property Rights. Obtaining a copyright requires few formalities; obtaining patents and trademarks is more complicated. "Patent prosecution" (obtaining a patent) requires some scientific or technical background (for more information, see www.uspto.gov), admission to a specialized bar, and knowledge of the art of claim drafting. Trademark prosecution does not require technical background or a specialized bar admission, but does require mastery of some special procedures and vocabulary. Recommended general background courses include the course in Administrative Law, which will introduce students to the basic statutes and doctrines that govern the creation and operation of administrative agencies such as the Department of Commerce, which includes the United States Patent & Trademark Office. The faculty also recommends the basic course in Legislation, which will enhance students' understanding of the process by which intellectual property rights are created and defined.
2. Intellectual Property Litigation. Many attorneys who specialize in intellectual property law work primarily as litigators, helping their clients to bring or defend infringement lawsuits. Intellectual property litigators require a thorough understanding of the rules of evidence and the law of federal jurisdiction (the federal district courts have exclusive subject matter jurisdiction of patent and copyright disputes). In addition, they should have a working knowledge of administrative law, antitrust law and (for those whose interest lies in the areas of copyright, trademark, and unfair competition) first amendment law. Attorneys representing clients in the broadcast and cable industries also need to familiarize themselves with certain aspects of the federal communications laws. Finally, since an increasing number of intellectual property disputes have an international flavor, students may wish to gain some exposure to the laws governing resolution of international business disputes.
c. Intellectual Property Licensing. Many attorneys who specialize in intellectual property, entertainment, and technology matters spend the bulk of their time licensing materials covered by patent, trade secret, copyright, and trademark law for manufacture, marketing, franchising, movie development, multimedia development, and so on. Attorneys who specialize in transactional intellectual property work must be familiar with commercial law and basic principles of contract drafting, as well as with intellectual property statutes and doctrines. In addition, a working knowledge of antitrust law is essential to understanding the relation between the limited monopolies granted by the intellectual property laws and the general ban on monopolistic practices. Finally, if intellectual property rights are to be licensed across national borders, the attorney must understand the law governing international business transactions.
d. Entertainment and Sports Law. Issues of copyright, trademark, and unfair competition arise often in the specialized practice area of representing entertainers, athletes, motion picture and television companies, and other entertainment-related companies. The courses in entertainment and sports law are designed to give the student exposure to these and other legal issues that lawyers practicing in these industries must understand. In addition, the faculty recommends a working knowledge of antitrust law and labor and employment law. Finally, students who wish to practice in industries regulated by the Federal Communications Commission should gain exposure to communications law.
e. Advising and Structuring High Technology Ventures. Intellectual property rights increasingly serve as the sole basis for startup businesses. Particularly in the high-technology area, there is opportunity for attorneys who have both a specialized knowledge of intellectual property law and an understanding of how to structure and finance new corporate or partnership ventures. These businesses need to attract the necessary funding and locate licensing partners. Biotechnology ventures, and some computer-related ventures as well, may need to understand the laws governing any potential environmental hazards that their operation may create. Biotechnology ventures also must navigate the requirements imposed by the food and drug laws; computer-related ventures into telecommunications markets will need to understand applicable Federal Communications Commission rules. Finally, a successful business that wishes to "go public" will need attorneys who can shepherd it through an initial public offering of stock.
Information Privacy Law
Intellectual Property in World Trade
Law of Cyberspace
Sports and the Law
Trademark and Unfair Competition Law
International Protection of Intellectual Property Through the WTO
Taxation of Intellectual Property
U.S. and International Customs Law
Global Cybercrime Law
International Trade, Intellectual Property Rights, & Public Health
Advanced Antitrust Economics and Law Seminar: Antitrust Law and Intellectual Property
Advanced Patent Law Seminar
Art and Cultural Property Law Seminar: Indiana Jones and the Elgin Marbles
Communications Law: Law, Policy, and Politics in the Internet Age
Computer Crime Seminar
Content Issues and the Internet Seminar
Contract Law Seminar: Franchising
Copyright Law: Advanced
Digital Copyright Law Seminar
Drafting, Negotiating and Understanding Sports Law Transactions
Films and the Law Seminar
Information Technology Transactions: Strategy, Negotiations and Drafting
Intellectual Property and Computer Software Seminar
Intellectual Property and Medicines (formerly: Pharmaceutical Intellectual Property Law Seminar)
Internet Copyright Legislation Seminar
Internet Regulation and Policy Seminar
Legal Delivery System in Transition: Changes, Challenges, New Models and Opportunities
Music Law Seminar: Changing Landscapes in the Music Industry and the Law that Governs It
Patent Licensing Seminar
Patent Prosecution Practice
Patent Prosecution and Enforcement Seminar
Public Law Seminar: Telecommunications and Technology Policy Advocacy
Intellectual Property Litigation: Pretrial Skills
Chang, Steve S. (Offered)
Katz, Robert S. (Offered)
McKee, Christopher L. (Offered)
Minsker, Helen H.
Roth, Christopher B. (Offered)
Stockton, Richard S.
Patent Trial Practice
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