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Courses in years past were limited to an introduction to copyright law, and alternate offerings of patent law and trademark law. A course in cyberspace law was introduced in the 1990s. Today, traditional courses in copyright, patent, and trademark provide the foundation for such courses as Electronic Commerce: Law, Technology & Business; Strategic Intellectual Property; Biotechnology and IP Rights; The Future of Ideas; and Intellectual Property in a New Technological Age. Tara Elliott, 3L, recalls: “My goal, as a 1L, was to take all the IP courses the school had to offer; by my third year, however, there were more IP classes than I could fit into my schedule.”

Assistant Professor Gideon Parchomovsky
Assistant Professor
Gideon Parchomovsky
“Not only has the field become more important and touched the lives of more and more people, but there is just a lot more to know about copyright than there ever was before,” says Gorman. “If you compare the number of words in the copyright statute in 2000 to 1990, I would say that it probably doubled in that 10- year period after having been fairly quiescent throughout the first 90 years of the century.”

Eldred v. Ashcroft, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in January, is the prime example. Gorman calls it “the biggest case ever in copyright.” The Court upheld the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act which lengthened the duration of copyrights by 20 years to “life plus 70 years,” raising a spectrum of legal issues.

In fact, federal approaches to IP issues are among the current research of Polk Wagner, who specializes in patent law. He is working on an empirical study of the Federal Circuit’s patent claim construction methodology and an analysis of contemporary control-based criticisms of intellectual property laws. “I’m deeply skeptical about the common criticism of intellectual property laws as inherently destructive of the public domain of ideas and information, and thus may, in the long run, diminish intellectual activity,” says Wagner. “In fact, I think that on most analyses, intellectual property rights can be — and have been — tremendous forces in increasing the quantity of information from which creators and inventors can build. In my view, as long as we get the incentive structures right, ‘open’ information will grow right along with — and often well beyond — the proprietary.”

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