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At Penn, students may learn the foundation of intellectual property law through a wealth of courses and seminars. Penn Law faculty who teach in the substantive areas of intellectual property and copyright have seized opportunities to add to the curriculum timely offers of seminars that address current legal issues before the markets and innovators. Additions to the technology curriculum last year alone included “Electronic Commerce: Law, Technology and Business” and “Intellectual Property: Patent Law” taught by Assistant Professor R. Polk Wagner; “Electronic Commerce Law” co-taught by Edward L. Rubin Professor of Law and Wharton professor Daniel Hunter of the Legal Studies Department; a seminar in “Electronic Communications and Regulatory Institutions;” and a cross-over course in “Intellectual Property in the New Technological Age” taught by new faculty member Arti K. Rai.
“Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship” will make its debut this Spring as a course that is offered jointly to Law students and students in the School for Engineering Arts & Sciences. The course will review legal issues encountered by the founders and legal counsel of high-tech entrepreneurial ventures. The topics that will be covered include developing intellectual assets; company ownership issues including corporate form, shareholder agreements and stock incentives; and legal and strategic issues surrounding private and public equity financing. This course evolved from the course “High Tech Ventures” that was offered jointly to Law and Engineering students last year.
R. Polk Wagner, new to the faculty in 2000, has energized the law and technology curriculum offerings and has suggested a framework to develop this area at Penn Law School.
“I am particularly interested in providing opportunities for our students to interact with engineers (and to some extent, M.B.A.s) – in the real world, lawyers and their clients (who in the high-tech context are usually engineers) must form partnerships to succeed.”
Wagner outlines what, in his view, Penn Law School can and will do to prepare students to become leading lawyers in the tech arena: provide opportunities for exchange between Law and Engineering students; teach students the language and reasoning of technology, so that they can interact with their clients with some understanding of both the law and the underlying business/technology challenges; and persuade students that an interdisciplinary approach is the norm, not just something practiced by those with advanced degrees in multiple fields.
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