Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property (“IP”) law and Information Policy underlies many of the most critical developments of contemporary law and society.  IP has become more central to law and society as IP rights have grown increasingly paramount in our economy and international trade. 

“Intellectual property” is an umbrella term that has come to refer broadly to a range of laws that normally have as their unifying feature the grant of exclusive rights over intangible assets. Such assets include inventions, artistic and literary works, brands, trade secrets and certain kinds of data. Many IP laws have as a core aim the encouragement of technological, artistic, and other types of information-related innovation.

Intellectual property law is traditionally described as having four main doctrinal fields: patent, trade secret, copyright, and trademark. These fields of law are, in turn, prevalent in many traditional practice areas involving the regulation of media, science and technology. 

Attorneys use IP expertise is a wide variety of practice settings.   Some concentrate their practice on specific industries, such as the computer software and hardware industry, pharmaceuticals, or the communications sector.   Others focus on transactional practices (such as licensing), a litigation practice (such as patent or copyright infringement cases) or practice in or before governmental agencies (such as the Patent and Trademark Office,  the Food and Drug Administration or the Federal Communications Commission).   The increased prominence of IP has also created an enhanced role for IP attorneys in the governmental and public interest sectors. 

Students have extraordinary opportunities to study all of the basic areas of IP law and practice - Patent Law, Copyright Law and Trademark Law - in a broad range of contexts.   WCL offers students the foundational Patent Law, Copyright Law and Trademark Law courses and the Intellectual Policy and Law survey IP course.  In addition, WCL’s extensive IP elective offerings provide opportunities to study:

  • specialized topics in IP law (such as Patent Prosecution, Trade Secrets and Technology Licensing Agreements);
  • international legal treatment of IP (International and Comparative Trademark, International and Comparative Copyright and International and Comparative Patent) ;
  • intersections of IP and other areas of law (Cyberlaw, IP and Health Law, IP Human Rights and Development).

Finally, The Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic prepares students to be effective and thoughtful practitioners through direct experience in this rapidly evolving area. Students learn a range of essential lawyering skills and acquire a critical understanding of the values and value conflicts that shape the development of IP law and policy. Through its activities, the Clinic strives to promote the public interest in copyright, patent, trademark and related fields.


Key Electives