Intellectual property law seeks to balance private property rights in human creations against the public interest in competition and fair use of ideas and innovations. How far should creative property rights extend? Should the public be able to copy the work of others? What is involved in claiming a patent or other intellectual property right? How does the government regulate intellectual property, and should it? Is there a right to a persona?

The three primary branches of intellectual property law are Patent Law, Copyright Law, and Trademark Law dealing, respectively, with inventions, writings, and branding. Intellectual property also includes trade dress, unfair competition, entertainment, music, art, communications, and technology. Students interested in this broad field should begin with the Introduction to Intellectual Property course, or a foundational course in one or more of the three primary branches to identify the niche that is of the greatest interest, and then explore further.

Intellectual property practitioners can engage in a practice that represents individuals and entities creating intellectual property, or owning, trading, or attempting to protect such property. This can be done in the context of a private firm or in-house counsel in many different types of entities.

Many intellectual property attorneys work for the government, at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Library of Congress, Copyright Office, Department of Justice, United States International Trade Commission, and the Department of Commerce to name a few. Trade associations representing the media, entertainment, professional sports, artists, and publishers offer additional opportunities.

Foundational Courses

  • Administrative Law
  • Copyright Law
  • Introduction to Intellectual Property
  • Patent Law
  • Trademarks and Unfair Competition

Highly Recommended Courses

  • Agency
  • Antitrust
  • Corporations
  • Remedies
  • Technology and Communications Law Practicum

Specialization Courses

  • Art Law
  • Cyber Law
  • Cybercrime and Criminal Enforcement
  • Entertainment Law
  • Federal Regulation of Food and Drugs
  • First Amendment Problems of the Media
  • Information Privacy
  • Intellectual Property Capstone
  • Intellectual Property Transactions
  • International Intellectual Property
  • Legal Aspects of Social Media
  • Music Law
  • Patent Prosecution
  • Professional Sports and the Law

Clinics, Skills, and Externships

Students oriented toward technology may wish to consider the Law and Technology Institute’s Certificate Program, with an intellectual property track:

Faculty: Professors Fisher, La Belle, Winston