Boston University School of Law

In This Issue

Welcome from Dean Maureen A. O'Rourke

Boston University School of Law has long been home to a renowned intellectual property law program, which draws students from across the globe to study with some of the most influential scholars in the discipline. Our alumni become leading voices in the fields of patent, trademark and copyright law, while our campus remains a hub for important IP research. And as we break ground on our new 93,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility this spring, we are honored that it will bear the name of former IP faculty member and prominent media executive Sumner M. Redstone, who gave a generous gift of $18 million to the the Law School.

In this issue, we highlight the accomplishments of our leading faculty, who have had a prolific year, indeed. We eagerly anticipate the publication of Professor Keith Hylton's book Laws of Creation: Property Rights in the World of Ideas, which argues the validity of intellectual property rights in the wake of profound technological advancement. And Professors Mike Meurer and Jim Bessen's pivotal research study in the field of patent law provides just one example of the prominent scholarship published by our faculty in the last year. This edition also profiles two alumni who have made their mark in the IP law field, the former IP counsel for FOX and the current VP of business and legal affairs at DC Comics and MAD Magazine.

At the cusp of so many exciting changes at the law school, I am happy to report that the BU Law intellectual property program continues to grow and thrive. Please enjoy this issue of our newsletter.

Maureen A. O'Rourke
Dean
Professor of Law
Michaels Faculty Research Scholar

Feature Stories

Former IP faculty member Sumner M. Redstone donates $18 million

sumner redstoneFormer BU Law faculty member and prominent media executive Sumner M. Redstone has pledged $18 million to the law school, propelling the campaign beyond its $20 million ground-breaking goal and into the full-scale, campus-wide campaign—Campaign for Boston University: Choose to Be Great—launched this fall.

"Boston University School of Law is one of the finest institutions of legal scholarship in the world and deserves a home that will enable it to continue to innovate and build on that legacy," Redstone says. "As a former faculty member, native Bostonian, and the proud parent of a BU Law graduate, I could not be more pleased to provide this gift that will benefit generations of future students."

His milestone pledge will help fund the tower renovation and construction of a new facility, which will be named the Sumner M. Redstone Building in his honor.

Sitting just west of the Law Tower, the Redstone Building will welcome its first class in fall 2014. It will house the majority of the school's classrooms, add comfortable meeting spaces for student groups, provide additional study space, and contain facilities to support clinical, transactional, and executive and professional education programs.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Redstone has lectured on intellectual property issues in the entertainment industry at universities across the country. In fact, he created one of the nation's first courses of its kind, "The Law of the Entertainment Industries," at BU Law after joining the faculty in 1982.

"This school is where two of my passions meet: education and the Law," he noted in a 2007 lecture at BU Law. He taught at the law school through much of the 80s, and the IP curriculum that he helped forge continues to be recognized nationally as one of the school's strengths.

"Mr. Redstone's commitment to the law school began many years ago as a member of our faculty, so it is fitting that our new classroom building will bear his name," BU Law Dean Maureen A. O'Rourke says. "At a time when legal education is facing many challenges, Mr. Redstone's gift is a tremendous vote of confidence in the future of legal education at Boston University School of Law. Thanks to his generosity, we will now be able to build a first-rate facility to complement the superb educational experience that our students receive."

Mr. Redstone has been a pioneer in the entertainment and communications industries and an advocate for protection of intellectual property in the media and creative sectors throughout his career. "Copyright compels creativity. It furnishes the incentive to innovate. If you limit the protection of copyrights, you will stifle the expression of new ideas," he noted in his 2007 BU Law lecture.

Currently Mr. Redstone serves as executive chairman of the board of both CBS Corporation and Viacom Inc. In 1994, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Boston University. His daughter, Shari Redstone (J.D.'78, LL.M.'80), serves as president of National Amusements, based in Dedham, MA, and vice-chairman of CBS Corporation and Viacom.

 

Bessen and Meurer author influential 'patent trolls' study

jim bessen mike meurerBU Law Professor Michael J. Meurer and Law Lecturer James Bessen have authored an important new study, "The Direct Costs from NPE Disputes," on the economic impact of Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs), more commonly known as "patent trolls."

NPEs are individuals and firms that obtain patents but don't use their patented technologies for production. Instead, they assert their patents in court against companies that do produce goods and services, often collecting thousands, if not millions, of dollars for patent infringements.

In the study, Bessen and Meurer use data from a survey of defendants and a database of NPE litigation to show that the patent troll practice is expanding rapidly. They found that in 2011 alone, 2,150 unique companies were forced to mount 5,842 defenses in lawsuits initiated by the actions of NPEs. In 2005, the number of defenses was 1,401.

It's not only the number of lawsuits that are rising. Costs are climbing dramatically, too. Bessen and Meurer estimate that the direct costs of NPE patent assertions totaled about $29 billion in 2011, up from $7 billion in 2005.

Surprisingly, the study found that it's not just major companies that are getting hit by NPE litigation. "Very many of these troll lawsuits are targeted against relatively small firms," Meurer said. "We expected that most [of the lawsuits] would be against the big, highly recognized brands like Google, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft. It turns out that the majority of the targets are not such big firms."

In fact, data shows that small and medium-sized entities made up 90% of the companies sued, accounted for 59% of the defenses, and paid about 37% of the aggregate costs in 2011.

There are likely other costs to patent trolling, as well. This study measured the direct costs of litigation, without including indirect penalties to businesses, such as diversion of resources, delays in new products, and loss of market share. When Bessen and Meurer did factor indirect expenses in a similar study—co-authored in 2011 with Jennifer Ford, then a third-year student at BU Law—they found that overall costs from patent troll litigation jumped to $80 billion per year.

According to Meurer, the two began their joint research on the US patent system in the mid 2000s. Their initial goal was to understand the explosion of patent lawsuits that started in the early 1990s. They discovered that the best explanation for the explosion is that the patent system often fails to work like a property system; in particular, interested innovators often can't locate or understand the patent rights that might be asserted against them as they develop and introduce new technology. They elaborate on this theory in their book, Patent Failure: How judges, bureaucrats and lawyers put innovators at risk, published by Princeton University Press in 2008.

"We had a new take on what was important about getting a patent system to work," Meurer said. "The patent system can work well if it can emulate other kinds of property systems. It more often failed when it didn't operate like a property system, and caused problems for innovative parties.

"Parties that are supposed to benefit from patent system actually suffer because it creates a headache for them," he added. "In many cases, it turned into a system that imposes a tax on innovators instead of stimulating innovation."

Up next, the professors are most interested in work on solutions. "We and many other law professors have recognized these problems are very serious, and the community needs to start thinking creatively about what sorts of solutions could deal with them," Meurer said.

Some of the solutions proposed by Bessen and Meurer include reforming the patent fee system, requiring patent owners to better define the scope of their patents, and demanding that information provided during the application process is quickly made public.

Policy bodies that Bessen and Meurer have presented to include the Federal Trade Commission and European Parliament. Their book on patent failure has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, by judges at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and in a report by the Federal Trade Commission on patent notice.

 

Trademark pro Jason Zedeck ('98) advises clients what's in a name

Jason ZedeckWhen you search the Internet for a word or phrase, do you just "google it," or do you use the search engine owned by Google? Why shouldn't a manufacturer of brown chairs call itself The Brown Chair Company? These are the kinds of issues trademark law expert Jason Zedeck ('98) navigates every day at his eponymous Los Angeles-based firm. "The name's the thing," as he says.

The former IP counsel for Fox Entertainment Group, Zedeck opened his own practice three-and-a-half years ago as an established authority on selecting, protecting and expanding trademarks and domain names. "I love almost every minute of it," he says.

His path to success began early, though with quite a different focus.

The young Jason Zedeck was a film school-bound movie buff who first learned about copyright law the hard way: he produced a video that included copyrighted materials while working at a local TV station in college. But in deciding to attend law school—after all, many heads of studios start as practicing lawyers—and concentrating in IP at BU Law with a dual degree in communications, his personal interest was gradually paving the way for professional pursuit.

He began volunteering for extra trademark cases in the entertainment law firm where he worked as a litigator after law school graduation because "it helped me distinguish myself and was something I enjoyed doing." After hours of extra work and learning on the fly, Zedeck had established himself as the "go-to" trademark lawyer in his office.

During his third year at the firm, he emailed Fox Entertainment Group in response to a job posting to ask if they might be interested in someone with his experience. They immediately invited him for an interview and, shortly thereafter, hired Zedeck into trademark enforcement and opposition.

During his eight years at Fox, he oversaw various IP issues across the studio, including film, television, merchandising and social networking channels. "I loved working at Fox," Zedeck says. "You're working with creative people, and you're also working with marketing and corporate, and trying to combine all the interests."

He witnessed firsthand the evolution of online media as an advertising tool for the entertainment industry. "Online posting and file sharing were supposed to be the enemy," he recalled from his early days at the studio.

But within a few years, the industry began to realize that if a clip was posted to YouTube or another online streaming site, consumers were more likely to watch the show or film—plus the studio could attach advertising to it. Zedeck still would have to advise and reconcile a marketing department that wanted to post a sneak peek clip with the theatrical department that didn't want any content leaked online. While piracy problems still existed, consumers now had more access to authorized content, and the relationship of IP law and entertainment marketing was forever changed.

But one thing was constant: Zedeck's trademark savvy proved essential throughout his time at Fox. "Someone would have a vision, and the challenge was trying to facilitate that vision, especially with a trademark," he says.

Marketing teams often proposed literal show titles to describe a new program, suggesting generic names like "Doctors," that a target audience could grasp effortlessly. "But from a trademark standpoint… you can't register and protect that," Zedeck explains. You can't stop another series from talking about doctors, or using "Doctors" as part of the title any more than you could register that generic name with the Patent and Trademark Office. "Descriptive marks don't usually stand, he says. "You want to make sure that you have a mark you can protect." By the time Zedeck had risen to senior IP counsel, he was well versed in this argument.

As the resident expert, Zedeck was frequently asked throughout his time at Fox if he knew any lawyers that could help with trademark-related issues. Recognizing a need for such counsel outside big firms and specialized boutiques, he opened his own shop in 2009.

He now crafts customized, comprehensive trademark strategies for not only entertainment organizations, but also restaurants, clothing companies, ski resorts and more. The first order of business? Selecting a good name.

"I think the nature of the law is that a keyword may not constitute trademark infringement, but I think there's more pressure on trademark owners to select a good name." He advises clients to choose a distinctive word that does not mean anything, like Google or Xerox, over a descriptive name (think The Brown Chair Company). Invariably, most clients want to start with a name that simply describes what they are selling.

He tells his clients, they need "a name that you can market, a name that you can use, protect and enforce. You also have to take into consideration that you may need a domain name, but a domain should not generally be the first step in the selection process."

He uses the acronym S.U.P.R.E.M.E to explain the selection process to clients: Select a name you can Use, Protect, Register, Enforce, Maintain and Expand. While not every name satisfies all the criteria—and sometimes clients just want a name that can use without being sued—more distinctive names make better trademarks.

It's interesting work in a day and age when consumers are constantly bombarded with branding and marketing messaging—and when competitors, cyber-squatters and third-party entities can buy keywords and domain names to keep from, or sell to, a company that is not vigilant.

Zedeck helps his clients navigate these pitfalls with the old adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." He says it is crucial to be proactive and register a trademark and domain name—even a Twitter and Facebook handle—prior to announcing a company name. After all, "it's much cheaper to get them from the outset rather than trying to buy it from somebody else."

In addition to providing outside counsel, Zedeck also serves as "in-house" trademark counsel for several of his largest clients. "It combines the best of what I loved about my prior positions at a law firm and in-house at Fox," he says. "And I control my own hours."

That means he is able to keep his booming business running and still be home to have dinner with the kids and his wife, whom he met during his 1L year at BU.

Though he may never have imagined it as a young film-school hopeful, it seems obvious in retrospect that this self-taught trademark pro and name-selection expert would one day open the Law Office of Jason Zedeck.

"Every step I took to get here was the right step," he says. "I don't think I would be where I am doing what I love doing without taking each of those steps."

 

Even Batman Needs a Lawyer: Jay Kogan ('86) protects the intellectual property rights of superheroes at DC Comics

jay kogan"I think it's pretty cool that as an adult, I can return the favor by protecting their copyright and trademark rights," says Kogan, who is vice president of business and legal affairs for DC Comics and MAD Magazine.

As the chief intellectual property lawyer for a company that owns the rights to such cultural icons as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Alfred E. Neuman, Kogan protects the economic power and goodwill of these characters by fending off copyright and trademark infringers.

According to Kogan, unauthorized use is common among small businesses and local politicians who use the company's copyrighted or trademarked property for commercial or political purposes. The local pizza parlor advertises that it delivers "faster than a speeding bullet" and shows a picture of Superman flying through the air with a pizza in his hand; the candidate running for town sheriff uses the Batman symbol to promote his pledge to keep the community safe from crime.

"In some cases, the users assume they'll slip under the radar, which is much tougher today, thanks to the Internet," says Kogan. "But in other cases, they are simply ignorant of the law."

Although many issues can be resolved with a phone call, not all negotiations are that easy. Two separate cases dealing with DC's "Kryptonite" trademark—one involving bike locks and the other Kryptonite hair gel—each took more than two years to resolve. In the bike lock case, the court rejected the defendant's argument that DC had abandoned its trademark rights on Kryptonite by failing to take action against other users of the name.

Kogan also gets his share of what he calls "reality-challenged" calls, like one from an individual who claims to have found archeological evidence that Superman really existed, or the caller who insists that DC Comics used his idea to have Superman travel back in time, in spite of the publisher's use of the same idea before the caller was born.

One of the things that Kogan likes most about his job is that it requires him to address legal issues and contract negotiations from both sides.

"DC Comics is on both sides of almost every issue," he says. "We grant rights and we acquire rights. We are both licensors and licensees. We are content creators and users of third-party content."

"On the one hand, as an owner of intellectual property rights, we want strong legal protections in place for our materials. But on the other hand, as a publisher of new stories, we want a rich public domain from which to draw ideas as well as a broad application of the fair use doctrine."

To make sure company editors understand how editorial content might give rise to legal claims, Kogan periodically runs an in-house seminar called DC Legal 101. The seminar has the stated goal of "not winning lawsuits, but rather avoiding lawsuits."

"While winning lawsuits is rewarding and can generate useful precedent, it's costly, time-consuming and a drain on resources," says Kogan. "This is clearly represented by the case of Winter v. D.C. Comics."

The brothers Edgar and Johnny Winter are blues and rock musicians, known for, among other things, being albino and sporting long white hair. A four-issue comic book series featuring the company's Jonah Hex character included characters named Johnny and Edgar Autumn, loathsome half-worm/half-man creatures who engaged in cannibalism and bestiality. The comic book brothers also had long white hair and albino features.

The Winter brothers sued DC Comics in 1995 for defamation and violating their rights of publicity. The company won the defamation case rather quickly—no one could think that the Winter brothers were really half-worm/half-man. But the rights-of-publicity case remained in the California court system for more than nine years before the company ultimately prevailed. The California Supreme Court found that the fictional Autumn brothers were sufficiently "transformative." DC had used the original material in new and creative ways, adding enough new message or meaning to qualify for protection under guidelines set out by the court in a 2001 decision, Comedy III Productions, Inc. v. Gary Saderup, Inc.

Kogan also enjoys the unexpected fringe benefits of the job. He is often invited to speak at bar association functions on intellectual property issues. At one of these events he had the opportunity to debate Johnnie Cochran on whether real people should be entitled to the same protections as fictional characters. At the time, Cochran was representing the legendary Rosa Parks in her claim against the hip-hop group Outkast for using her name in one of its hit rap songs.

On another occasion, Kogan met and worked with one of his favorite television stars of his teenage years, Lynda Carter, aka Wonder Woman.

"It's a great job, and as a dad it's wonderful," says Kogan. "Not many kids can tell their friends that their father is Batman's lawyer."

This feature originally appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of BU Law's Alumni magazine,The Record.

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Faculty Updates

Dogan pursues trademark research

Professor Dogan

Professor Dogan

While on teaching sabbatical this year, Professor of Law Stacey Dogan is working on a number of trademark-related research projects. In early October, she will be presenting the first of the projects, co-authored with Mark Lemley, at a conference at UC Davis. Their article, "Parody as Brand," examines the phenomenon of brands that themselves are parodies of famous trademarks. These brands that parody—including recent examples like "Chewy Vuitton," "Charbucks" and "South Butt"—do not fit comfortably into existing trademark doctrine. Dogan and Lemley argue that these parodies can serve important speech functions, and propose a framework for analyzing them under trademark law.

Dogan is also completing a chapter on the right of publicity for an upcoming book, Intellectual Property at the Edge: The Contested Contours of Intellectual Property, to be published by the Cambridge University Press. Dogan's chapter—"Haelan Laboratories v. Topps Chewing Gum: The Commodification of Personality"—examines the legacy of the 1953 Haelan opinion, which first recognized the "right of publicity" as an alienable legal right.

In other projects, Dogan is examining a shift in what she calls the "burden of persuasion" in trademark cases in recent years and is continuing her research into the treatment of intermediaries in United States and European trademark law. Finally, she is conducting historical and interdisciplinary research into the changing role of trademarks in the United States over the course of the twentieth century.

Recently published works

Professor Dogan published a number of articles over the last year, including:

 

Gordon presents on IP issues

Professor Gordon

Professor Gordon

A noted scholar in the IP field, William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor Wendy Gordon has presented at various conferences across the country in the last year. She recently attended The Institute for Law and Philosophy's Philosophical Foundations of Intellectual Property Conference at the University of San Diego School of Law. She spoke at the AALS Midyear Program on IP, Biolaw and Internet Law in June, and delivered the keynote address at Society for the Economic Research in Copyright Issues. She presented on harmless uses and fair use markets at the University of Texas - Austin and UCLA School of Law, respectively, and served as moderator at the Harvard Law Review Symposium.

Scholarship in progress

Professor Gordon has several works in progress, including:

  • "Copyright and Tort as Mirror Images: On not mistaking for the right hand what the left hand is doing," updates a prior article and responds to its critics
  • "Functionality and Separability", project in progress with co-author Stacey Dogan, reconsidering the status of unpatented designs
  • "Substantial Similarity and Harm: Uses of Physical versus Intangible Property"

 

Hylton authors book on Property Rights

Professor Hylton

Professor Hylton

The Honorable Paul J. Liacos Professor of Law Keith Hylton's forthcoming book Laws of Creation: Property Rights in the World of Ideas, co-authored with former BU School of Law Dean Ronald Cass, will be published by Harvard University Press in January 2013. The comprehensive survey of IP doctrine supports the continued encouragement of innovation through the granting of property rights and responds to recent critiques that argue changing technology undermines the case for such. Hylton and Cass rebut that the protection of intellectual property is now more critical than ever, as the easier it becomes to copy innovations through technological advancement, the harder it becomes to distinguish between copy and original, and thus the stronger the disincentive to invest in creation.

Additional scholarship

A prolific scholar, Hylton has published a high volume of varied research in the past year. His recent working paper "Antitrust Enforcement Regimes: Fundamental Differences" (2012) defines and examines two antitrust regime types: the U.S. and the EU. In demonstrating the differences in enforcement, predation law and procedure, he finds profound implications for the welfare consequences of global antitrust enforcement.

"The Law and Economics of Products Liability" (2012) argues that, though in need of reform, the products liability law probably improves social welfare in the sense that it aims to predict the incentive effects and the welfare consequences of the law.

Hylton, along with Kent College of Law Professor Sungjoon Cho, examines the divergence between private and social incentives to settle and policies that would minimize socially undesirable injunctive and reverse settlements in a forthcoming article in the European Journal of Law and Economics.

Additional published works include:

 

Meurer publishes seminal 'patent trolls' research

Professor Meurer

Professor Meurer

Professor of Law Michael J. Meurer continues his study of issues affecting the patent landscape with the June publication of "The Direct Costs of NPE Disputes" with Lecturer in Law James Bessen. Their influential study measures the economic impact of non-practicing entities on companies that do produce goods and services. It further explores the type of entity carrying the majority of that burden and asserts a trend of growth in NPE litigation and, thus, patent troll practice. Ultimately, it proposes solutions for reforming the patent system to promote active innovation and to reduce the NPE-imposed financial burden to all, particularly small, inventors.

The paper complements and a September 2011 study (with co-author Jennifer Ford), which estimated the total costs of NPE litigation for publicly listed firms through stock market event studies.

Speaking engagements

To present his findings and extensive knowledge of the U.S. patent system, Meurer has lent his expertise to the patent discourse at a number of conferences and summits in 2012. In the spring he addressed "The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls" at PatCon, held at Boston College Law School. He was the keynote speaker at the spring conference held by RPX Corporation—a privately held provider of patent risk management solutions and defensive patent aggregation. And in July he spoke at the 9th Annual Patents for Financial Services Summit in New York.

Professor Meurer is scheduled present throughout the fall at the American IP LawAssociation in D.C., Cornell Law School, the Solutions to the Software Patent Problem summit at Santa Clara University, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Notice externalities

Also published this year was Meurer's study with UC Berkley law professor Peter Menell "Notice Failure and Notice Externalities." Their article coins a term for the previously unrecognized market loophole allowed by the conflicting incentives of the public good of notice information and the competitive benefit of obscuring the scope of rights of intangible resources such as intellectual property. It explores potential causes of notice failure and offers a framework for preventing and ameliorating the adverse effects.

 

O'Rourke updating copyright casebook

Professor O'Rourke

Dean O'Rourke

Dean Maureen O'Rourke, a Michaels Faculty Research Scholar, continues her involvement with the BU Law Intellectual Property program in addition to her many administrative duties as dean.

Professors Cohen, Loren and Okediji and Dean O'Rourke recently published an update to their casebook: 2012 Statutory and Case Supplement to Copyright in a Global Information Economy (Aspen Law & Business), now in its third edition. The comprehensive supplement includes both domestic and international materials, featuring The U.S. Copyright Act (including recent updates to U.S.C., Title 17), Viacom v. YouTube on the standard for "red flag" awareness of copyright infringement, and coverage of developments in international copyright, including proposed regional trade agreements and efforts to enhance global enforcement prospects.

In the classroom this spring, O'Rourke will once again teach her course on Secured Transactions, as she did last spring.

 

Outterson publishes on Obamacare, antimicrobial resistance and drug marketing

Professor Outterson

Professor Outterson

Associate Professor of Law Kevin Outterson explores the Supreme Court's historic "Obamacare" decision and what it means for Medicaid in particular and health law in general in "Plunging into Endless Difficulties: Medicaid and Coercion in the Healthcare Cases," with Nicole Huberfield & Elizabeth Weeks Leonard. The article will be published in January in the Boston University Law Review. The article builds on arguments articulated by Outterson and colleagues in an amici brief that anticipated the key remedy in the court's Medicaid decision. While most of the public focus has been on the Commerce Clause, these scholars conclude that the Medicaid decision will have much more important long-term impact.

Outterson continues his work on the topic of antimicrobial resistance. He has been appointed to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention task force on antimicrobial resistance. His work focuses on how intellectual property law and other laws can unintentionally promote resistance to antibiotics. Additionally, he is a member of a joint task force of the Brookings Institution and the Food and Drug Administration on development of new antimicrobial drugs. "If our work is successful, then tens of thousands of people will avoid infection by an untreatable microbe," he said.

Lastly, Outterson has written two articles with former students. Shoshana Speiser and her former professor examined ways in which state and federal governments could modify their tax codes to regulate drug marketing in ways that don't violate the First Amendment. Their article, "Deductions for Drug Ads? The Constitution Does Not Require Congress to Subsidize Direct-To-Consumer Prescription Drug Advertisements," appeared in the Santa Clara Law Review (2012). The Pepperdine Journal of Business, Entrepreneurship & the Law published "Agents Without Principals: Regulating the Duty of Loyalty for Nonprofit Corporations Through the Intermediate Sanctions Tax Regulations," co-authored with Carly Eisenberg.

Recent and upcoming speaking engagements

This fall, Professor Outterson will speak on a number of issues at various events, including:

  • Panelist, The Supreme Court's Opinions on Obamacare, Boston University School of Law, Boston, MA

 

BU Law welcomes Visiting Assistant Professor Alexandra Roberts

alex robertsVisiting Assistant Professor Alexandra J. Roberts joins the BU Law faculty for the 2012-2013 academic year, during which she will teach Trademark and Unfair Competition. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College (A.B. '02), Stanford University (A.M. English Literature '03) and Yale Law School (J.D. '08.) Roberts has been published on her primary research interests of trademarks, intellectual property, and the law and literature in such journals as the Texas Law Review, the Yale Journal of Law & Technology, IDEA: the Intellectual Property Law Review, and the Trademark Reporter. She serves as editor of the Trademark Reporter for the 2012-2013 year. Most recently, she practiced in the IP Litigation group of the Boston office of Ropes & Gray LLP. Roberts is also a published poet, including "San Diego" (Emerge Literary Journal 2012) and "Yom Kippur" (Barely South Review 2012).

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Adjunct Highlights
  • Lecturer in Law Russell Beck has drawn upon his 20 years of litigating complex business and intellectual property cases to speak at several conferences this past year. Beck lectured on employee non-compete agreementsat an event sponsored by the Boston Bar Association, as well as at an event sponsored by University of Louisville about Labor and Employment Law. He also participated in the Pacific Coast Labor and Employment Law Conference and a webinar/teleconference about protecting scientific and high tech trade secrets. Additionally, Beck recently authored an article published in New England In-House entitled "Protecting Trade Secrets, Biz Goodwill Across State Lines."
  • Lecturer in Law James Bessen has continued his research with Professor Meurer on patent law and NPE litigation. Their article "End the Patent Wars" was published in the Harvard Business Review last October, while their study "The Direct Costs from NPE Disputes" was published in June. Bessen also authored a piece for Wired, in which he weighed in on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's proposed changes to its fee structure.
  • Lecturer in Law Jeffrey P. Donohue has joined Spectra System Corporation as a non-executive director while continuing his work as corporate counsel for Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. This fall Donohue is teaching a seminar called Representing Life Sciences Companies, which will focus on the transactional, intellectual property and regulatory legal issues that challenge lawyers working with clients in the rapidly growing biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industries.
  • Lecturer in Law Lisa N. Geller has joined Eleven Biotherapeutics as senior patent counsel. This fall she spoke on a panel at the Creating and Living with a Foreign Filing Strategy symposium, sponsored by the Boston Patent Law Association.
  • Lecturer in Law Jerrold Neeff was recently involved in the settlement of a trade secret dispute between two competing software companies, both of whom claimed that the other party had engaged in the theft and conversion of certain proprietary information. He is also currently been retained by a major apparel manufacturer, who has alleged that another well-known manufacturer had engaged in copyright infringement and the breach of an implied contract between the parties. In addition to teaching Entertainment Law this year in both the fall and spring, he will be serving as a moderator in the New Media segment at this year’s Entertainment LawSymposium at Harvard Law School.

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IP Events & Speakers at BU Law

Introducing students to the perspectives and expertise of leading scholars and practitioners has always been a hallmark of the BU Law IP program. The presentations of guest speakers and the dialogue that ensues enrich students' experiences and equip them with a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Additionally, by bringing together current and future IP lawyers through networking events, talented students receive career education, while firms and organizations engage with some of the brightest talent soon to be entering the work force.

IP Networking & Career Education Events

The IP Law Society brings to campus a number of speakers in various industries, with special emphasis on evolving areas of the law, to facilitate networking and career education for students interested in pursuing IP practice. Recently students have had the opportunity to hear from and meet with:

  • Michael Hamlin, principal at Fish & Richardson, who discussed patent law and general litigation
  • Matthew Kleinman, corporate counsel at Draper Laboratories, who covered practicing IP law with a technology background
  • Evan Kaplan, vice president and associate general counsel at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, who touched on his career path and the publishing industry.

Additionally, the Career Development Office, in conjunction with the Alumni Office, brings together BU Law alumni and current students through a number of networking events, which often include practitioners from the IP industry. In October, Michael Gollin ('84) from Venable participated in a round table discussion about intellectual property careers.

IP Speaker Series

BU Law's IP Speaker Series brings a robust roster of leading IP law thinkers to campus to interact with students and faculty in workshop settings. Speakers from the 2011-2012 series included:

  • Jessica Silbey, Suffolk University Law School
  • Dan Burk, UC Irvine School of Law
  • Michael Madison, University of Pittsburgh School of Law

This year BU Law will host Kevin Collins of Washington University in St. Louis and Brett Frischman of Cardozo Law School.

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