March 10, 2010
What a busy week it’s been!
Last week was the annual Barrister's Ball, also affectionately referred to as "law school prom." It was held at the beautiful Coach Insignia on the 72nd floor of the Renaissance Center. It was a fun opportunity to get dressed up, eat an outstanding dinner, do some dancing, and spend time with friends. This was the first year I attended Barrister's, and it was a really fun time.
Yesterday, as part of our effort to enhance legal scholarship in the law school and the community, the University of Detroit Mercy Law Review had the pleasure of presenting its third annual live symposium: The Future of Intellectual Property Law. It was held at the Detroit Athletic Club and we had many outstanding speakers from all over the country. The event consisted of four panels: the future of patent law, the future of international IP law, the future of trademarks, and the future of copyrights. It was a nice experience for our students and faculty to become better educated in the field of intellectual property, and for IP practitioners to learn more about what to expect in the coming years. I was impressed with how many seats were filled!
I learned that IP law actually is pretty interesting! It touches a lot of areas that impact our everyday life. Here are just a few issues that came up during the presentations:
*Google Books. I love Google Books, and I use it frequently when checking quotations for my law review editing. But what impact does uploading those book images have on the authors’ copyright protections in their work? Will Google Books continue to be around for future law review editors?
*Are certain types of complex gene therapies that use naturally occurring DNA sequences patentable? On the one hand, researchers devote countless resources to doing the necessary research, but on the other hand, if it occurs naturally, isn’t that “human life,” which legally cannot be patented? The answer could have serious implications for the individuals who could benefit from these medical procedures.
*It’s pretty clear that there are certain trademarks that really serve a valid purpose of helping avoid confusion by consumers. If all of the 2-liter cola bottles all said “Coca Cola,” how would you know which one was your favorite? But to what extent should we limit a company’s ability to trademark certain ideas. One of the speakers mentioned a suit that occurred in his hometown that dealt with a restaurant chain that sued for exclusive use of the restaurant genre of an “upscale Mexican drive-through” restaurant. When they won, it forced another such restaurant out of business, and resulted in fewer choices to consumers. Doesn’t that harm the people that trademarks were supposed to help? How far is too far?
It was a really long day, but I really enjoyed the event that our students organized, and I was so proud of its success. I had also had the opportunity to meet many of the speakers and moderators at a dinner the night before, and I had an additional chance to hear some of their incredible stories. It really was a great couple days.
This morning, I had the chance to participate in an admissions event at the law school, and I got to meet many prospective students and share my law school experience with all of them. If you are considering attending UDM Law, I really encourage you to attend our next visit day, or to contact the admissions office to set up an individual visit. Just tell them I sent you. ;]