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Spring 2019: Intellectual Property Strategies for National Development: A Case Study of Current Issues in India


This Global Research Seminar (GRS) will introduce students to the most current intellectual property debates and controversies currently playing out in the Indian legal system. In each of these controversies, India has sought to balance its national priorities against trade-related international pressure and market-based considerations, often producing a delicate compromise in its legal rules, norms, and institutional enforcement.

Over the course of the semester, class sessions will examine five such issues:  patent law and access to medicines; copyright law and educational access; geographical indications protection for indigenous manufacturing; the Indian approach to protecting traditional knowledge; and the protection of plant varieties and farmers’ rights. For each of these topics, the discussion will focus on the doctrinal issues involved, the unique institutional settings for them, and the success/failure of the attempted resolution.

This seminar will be co-taught by Professor Shyam Balganesh and Bok Visiting International Professor Shamnad Basheer. Basheer is a  leading public intellectual in India. Primarily a scholar of intellectual property and innovation law, he is the architect of  the influential IP blog (SpicyIP), and worked extensively with India’s government and courts to craft and shape India’s IP policy in various areas. In 2014, the Supreme Court of India invited Basheer to intervene in the Novartis case, India’s internationally-known case on pharmaceutical patents.

Professor Basheer will join the students in Delhi, and will accompany the class back to Penn Law to lead class discussions for the remainder of the term.


The seminar will meet during the spring semester (Tuesday 1:00pm-3:00pm).  During the spring break (March 1-10, 2019), the class will spend one week in New Delhi, where they will meet with the key actors (individual and institutional) who are at the center of these debates.


Students will be responsible for arranging and paying for their own transportation to/from India. Students must arrive by the specified date and remain with the group until the end of the program.

In addition to airfare, students will be charged a $900 program fee (for accommodations, in-country transportation and other programmatic expenses.) The trip fee assumes double occupancy accommodations. Some meals and cultural excursions will be covered by the program fees, but students will be expected to cover additional meals, sightseeing activities and incidental expenses.

Penn Law will provide partial or full financial aid to qualifying students. Students are also able to increase their loans to cover costs associated with this trip. After enrollment is determined, students seeking financial aid will be asked to provide a separate letter explaining the basis for their need. Financial aid decisions will be made in a timely fashion to allow students to drop the course should they wish to.


This class is open to 2L, 3L, and LLM students.  No prior background is necessary for the class. Students who have taken one or more classes in the IP space will be given preference during the selection process, as will students with an interest in India.

The application deadline is November 11, 2018. In order to be considered for the seminar, students must follow the instructions provided via the online form below. Applicants must submit a short personal statement (of no more than 500 words) describing their reasons for wanting to take this class and their interest in the topic together with a resume and unofficial transcript. As noted previously, only students who are able to be a part of the March research trip should apply.

Application Instructions