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in this issue:
Welcome from Dean O'Rourke
Stacey L. Dogan joins BU Law
Faculty activities
Cisco patent lawyer seeks Professor Meurer’s mentorship at BU Law
Alumni newsmakers
Alumni notes
About the IP curriculum
IP faculty
Feedback

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Welcome from Dean O'Rourke

IP Law Professors Stacey Dogan, Wendy Gordon, Michael Meurer

Boston University School of Law is home to a strong and vibrant intellectual property law community that includes experts in all three of the core fields of IP law: patent, copyright and trademark.

Our IP faculty includes acclaimed scholars Stacey Dogan, Wendy Gordon and Mike Meurer (pictured right), who publish internationally and appear as keynote speakers and presenters at conferences worldwide. In addition to our core IP faculty, other scholars at BU are writing on related issues. For example, Professor Keith Hylton, an authority on antitrust law, is examining the economic logic behind intellectual property law in his forthcoming book Laws of Creation: Property Rights in the World of Ideas, which he is co-writing with former BU Law Dean Ronald Cass. Health law scholar and Associate Professor Kevin Outterson's work focuses on global pharmaceutical markets, including the nexus between intellectual property law, access and innovation.

Recognizing the diversity of this field, BU Law scholars engage in a deep exploration of intellectual property law, regularly collaborating with experts in other disciplines including economics, health law and philosophy to examine how IP affects the areas of business, culture and technology. For example, Dr. Ernst Fehr, one of the pioneers in the field of behavioral economics, visited BU Law in October for a week of formal and informal interaction with faculty and law students. Dr. Fehr is the director of the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics at the University of Zurich, and specializes in experiments that evaluate the "taste for fairness" and for punishing norm violations. His research covers the areas of the evolution of human cooperation and sociality, in particular fairness, reciprocity and bounded rationality. His lectures touching on these and other topics are of particular interest to intellectual property law scholars who see the Internet as increasing the possibilities for reputational and reciprocity-based peer production as a complement or alternative to copyright law.

BU Law's IP program draws the globe's brightest students who eagerly engage in an exploration of intellectual property law issues. Accomplished scholars themselves, our graduates have published books and journal articles, received faculty appointments and pursued careers in private practice as IP specialists.

I hope this overview of our IP program will give you a sense of the dynamic intellectual property community at BU Law.

Dean Maureen O'Rourke

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Stacey L. Dogan joins BU Law

Prof. Stacey L. Dogan

Intellectual property expert Stacey L. Dogan visited BU Law two years ago, and this year, she joined the faculty full-time to complement an already well-rounded team of IP-savvy law professors.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Professor Dogan to BU Law,” said Dean Maureen A. O’Rourke. “Stacey is a leading scholar in trademark and copyright law, and she rounds out our expertise in the intellectual property field. She is also an excellent teacher, a quality that we value highly.”

Professor Dogan taught for more than a decade at Northeastern University School of Law, where she focused on intellectual property and antitrust law. She came to teaching after several years practicing law with the Washington, D.C., firm of Covington & Burling, where she specialized in antitrust litigation, copyright, and trademark law.

After law school, she practiced with Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe in San Francisco and served as a law clerk to Judge Judith Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Professor Dogan has written many articles on the application of trademark and copyright law to the online environment, with a particular emphasis on the role of intermediaries such as Napster and Google. She has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences, and her writings have appeared in journals including the Stanford Law Review, Emory Law Journal, Iowa Law Review and Texas Law Review.

In the fall of 2008, she became the co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Copyright Society, a peer-reviewed copyright journal. She is also the incoming chair of the Intellectual Property Section of the Association of American Law Schools. She is an active participant in educational programs with the local bar, leading seminars and discussions for the Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education and Massachusetts Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. She also has participated in executive training sessions through the Northeastern University high-technology M.B.A. program.

Professor Dogan is excited about her new role at BU Law. “I am thrilled to be joining what I view as one of the best intellectual property programs in the country. The depth and breadth of BU Law’s IP faculty make it an exciting place to teach and to learn.”

She added, “In few other institutions could a student walk down the hall and find leading experts in each of the core fields of intellectual property: patent, copyright and trademark law. And students must know this, because BU attracts an extraordinarily talented, motivated and engaged group of students who plan to study and practice intellectual property law.”

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Faculty activities

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Cisco patent lawyer seeks Professor Meurer’s mentorship at BU Law

Dan Lang, Director Intellectual Property, Cisco Systems, Inc.
Dan Lang, Director Intellectual Property, Cisco Systems, Inc.

Where does an expert with more than 15 years of experience in the IP field go to learn more about Intellectual Property Law? For Dan Lang, the answer was clear: Boston University School of Law. Lang is the director of intellectual property at Cisco Systems Inc., the leading supplier of networking equipment for the Internet.

He spent his summer as a visiting scholar at BU Law, working on a research project under Professor Michael Meurer, whom Lang sought out because of Meurer’s dual expertise in both intellectual property and economics. “I’ve read Mike’s book Patent Failure, and Mike is an economics Ph.D.,” said Lang. “I was looking for somebody who would be good to work with and who would be interested and enthusiastic about taking on the role as my mentor for the summer. Mike fit the bill perfectly.”

As a patent lawyer at Cisco, Lang heads a team focused on strategy. “We work on the patent marketplace, patent issues relating to standards, patent licensing, patent pools and judicial and legislative patent reform,” said Lang. “I’ve always had an interest in the reasons we have a patent system. What it ultimately comes down to is that patents are there to incentivize innovation. And the type of analysis you need to figure out whether they’re doing that well or poorly really has more to do with economics than it has to do with law.”

Lang’s research at BU Law focuses on patent pool regulation and possible improvements to the current system. “There was a new generation of patent pools that started about 10 to 12 years ago that focused on [pooling] patents that are essential to a particular standard,” said Lang.

His work has been about the possibility of “expanding the permitted scope of pools somewhat,” said Lang. “There are some cases where you should be able to pool together related patents that aren’t essential for a standard, or mix patents that are essential for a standard and some others that may be related to the standard but aren’t essential. In many cases, these pools will be beneficial and therefore should be permitted.”

Lang explained that working with Meurer has enhanced his research. “Mike has helped me out a lot in understanding some of the economic concepts,” said Lang. “It’s been very helpful to have a seasoned professional who knows everything I know about patent law and more but also knows the economics. I really appreciate BU providing the space and support for me to do my work this summer. It’s a great opportunity to learn things and do research that would be hard to combine with my daily work.”

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Alumni newsmakers

Robert Plotkin’s Genie in the Machine explores patent law revolution

Robert Plotkin, The Genie in the Machine

Today’s computers are automating the process of inventing. Software can automatically generate designs for everything from toothbrushes to antennas to automobile frames quickly and inexpensively. Will patent law become obsolete in the wake of artificial invention? Not if it adapts, said Robert Plotkin, whose book The Genie in the Machine (Stanford University Press, 2009) explores computer-automated inventing and the revolution it’s creating among innovators.

Plotkin (’96) is both an alumnus of and lecturer at BU Law. He is a lawyer specializing in patent protection for computer technology, with an emphasis on software patents. He is the founder of Robert Plotkin, P.C. in Burlington, which has been named a “Go-To Law Firm for Leading Technology Companies” by American Lawyer Media.

Since 2004, Plotkin has lectured on “Software and the Law,” which covers topics including the application of patent law, copyright law, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to software, First Amendment protection for computer source code, software licensing, computer crimes, and legal issues related to open source software.

Plotkin explained that artificial invention is the use of computers to automatically design new products.

“The ‘genie’ is a computer equipped with artificial invention software, which enables the computer to automatically transform an inventor’s abstract description of the problem he wants a new machine to perform — the ‘wish’ — into a design for a machine that solves the problem — the ‘wish come true,’” said Plotkin. As computers take over the role of inventors to design the physical details of new products, inventors “need to shift their focus to learning how to identify the problem that a new product needs to solve, and how to describe that problem in a language that artificial invention technology can understand. They will need to become more like Henry Ford and less like an automotive engineer.”

The implication is that patent lawyers must also shift their focus. “Although artificial invention technology is automating the physical design of products, we still need human inventors to create new artificial invention software and to instruct existing artificial invention software to solve today’s pressing technological problems,” said Plotkin.

“All of this requires significant technical skill, and as long as we need people with such skill to innovate, we will need patent law to encourage and protect the results of such innovation. The rules of patent law, however, need to be updated in light of invention automation, and The Genie in the Machine lays out a detailed road map for such legal reform.”

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Oza (’09) receives Jan Jancin Award at ABA

Achal Oza ('09)

Achal Oza (’09) received recognition for his scholarship in the IP field with this year’s prestigious Jan Jancin Award, from the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation, the Intellectual Property Law Section of the American Bar Association and the American Intellectual Property Law Association.

BU Law IP professors nominated Oza for this honor. “I was thrilled merely to be recognized by the IP faculty here at BU Law, let alone to have actually won the award,” said Oza, who flew to Chicago immediately following the bar exam to receive the award at the ABA annual meeting. Professor Stacey L. Dogan taught Oza in her Internet Law seminar and wrote his recommendation for the award.

She wrote, “Achal’s comments in class reflected a wonderful combination of intense intellectual discipline and thinking-outside-the-box creativity. They also showed an unusual level of knowledge and sophistication regarding the online intellectual property wars. Achal had obviously been following these debates for some time, and understood their nuances.”

Professor Dogan added, “Achal brought the same probing, scholarly approach to his papers for the course. He chose topics — such as a proposed levy system in copyright law — that allowed him to grapple with both doctrinal and policy questions, and he dug right in at both levels. Achal is one of that rare breed of students that combines extraordinary intellect with humility, grace and good humor.”

Before coming to BU Law, Oza earned his Master of Science in Computer Systems Engineering. “I’m interested in IP as it provides me an avenue to apply my engineering background to the law,” he said. “The IP courses I took at BU ran the gamut and have prepared me well for the varied issues that can be found within IP law.”

Oza will put his legal education to use as a fellow with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Later, he will join Goodwin Procter’s Boston office as a corporate attorney focusing on IP issues.

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Alumni Notes

This is just a snapshot of what our IP alums are up to. >>View all alumni news.

Robert Barr (’73) is the executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at the University of California — Berkeley School of Law. He was vice president for IP and worldwide patent counsel for Cisco Systems in San Jose, Calif., where he was responsible for all patent prosecution, licensing and litigation. This year, Barr joined the board of directors for ThinkFire Inc., a leading intellectual property advisory, brokerage and licensing firm. The UC Berkeley School of Law recently created a scholarship in his honor.

Val Gurvits (’99) is a corporate attorney with a strong IP background. He lectures on e-commerce law at BU Law, and is a founding partner of the Boston Law Group LLP. A major focus of his practice is the area of software, including software license negotiation, copyrights and trade-secret protection. Prior to attending law school, Gurvits worked for more than 11 years in the computer software industry, developing and marketing large-scale software applications for corporate clients. He has served as co-chair of the Computer and Internet Law Committee of the Boston Bar Association’s IP section.

Eileen Herlihy (’82) is an Associate Professor of Law at New England Law in Boston, where she teaches patent and property law, and is co-director of the school’s Intellectual Property Institute. She is a co-chair of the Intellectual Property Litigation Committee of the Boston Bar Association. Her paper “Appellate Review of Patent Claim Construction: Should the Federal Circuit Be Its Own Lexicographer in Matters Related to The Seventh Amendment?” was published in the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review, Vol. 15 (2009).

Brandy Karl (’04) was recently a residential fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, where she litigated with the Fair Use Project in cases that included Rowling v. RDR and Lennon v. Premise. Karl was principal of her own firm in Boston before joining CIS. As a fellow, she litigates copyright fair-use cases and researches issues at the intersection of technology and IP law.

Barbara Lauriat (’04) is the Career Development Fellow in IP law at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. She is working toward a doctorate in the law faculty with a dissertation focusing on the 1878 Royal Commission on Copyright. At Oxford Law, she teaches IP law and FHS trademark and copyright law.

Brandon Ress (’09) is in the trademark practice at Fulbright & Jaworski in Austin, working on trademarks, trade secrets and occasional copyright projects.

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About the IP curriculum

BU Law recognizes the importance that IP law plays in our society. For this reason, IP Law is integrated into every part of our curriculum. The School offers an IP Law concentration in our J.D. program, dual degree programs involving IP Law, an IP focus within our Legislation Clinic as well as a highly selective Master of Laws Degree in Intellectual Property Law. BU Law also annually publishes professional articles and student-written notes in the Journal of Science & Technology Law.

View full BU Law IP curriculum

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IP faculty

Full-time IP professors

  • Stacey L. Dogan, Law Alumni Scholar and Professor of Law
  • Wendy J. Gordon, Paul J. Liacos Scholar in Law and Professor of Law
  • Keith N. Hylton, Honorable Paul J. Liacos Professor of Law and Professor of Law
  • Michael J. Meurer, Michaels Faculty Research Scholar and Professor of Law
  • Maureen A. O’Rourke, School of Law Dean, Michaels Faculty Research Scholar, and Professor of Law
  • Kevin Outterson, Associate Professor of Law

>>See full-time faculty bios

Part-time and visiting IP professors

  • James E. Bessen, Lecturer in Law, and Director and Founder at Research on Innovation
  • Joseph B. Darby III, Lecturer in Law, Graduate Tax Program, and head of the tax department at Greenberg Traurig LLP-Boston
  • Jeffrey P. Donohue, Lecturer in Law and Corporate Counsel at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
  • Lisa N. Geller, Lecturer in Law and Associate, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP
  • Val Gurvits, Lecturer in Law and founding partner at Boston Law Group
  • Jerrold G. Neeff, Lecturer in Law and Principal at The Bostonian Law Group
  • Robert Plotkin, Lecturer in Law and Attorney, Robert Plotkin, P.C.
  • Ivan Reidel, Visiting Assistant Professor and S.J.D. candidate at Harvard Law School, and former cabinet advisor to Secretary of State for Competition in Argentina.
  • Lior Zemer, Visiting Assistant Professor, Lecturer in Law, Radzyner School of Law, Interdisciplinary Centre, Herzliya, research associate, European & International Research Unit, Ghent University

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Feedback

We want to know what you think about our first newsletter about BU Law's IP program. Please send us your thoughts by using our online Feedback form. Also please use this form to let us know if you’d like to receive future electronic IP updates from us.

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