Intellectual property law is the general term describing the area of law encompassing patent law, trademark and unfair competition law, trade secret law, copyright law, and right of publicity law. A company’s intellectual property may be some of its most valuable assets, and ones that it must continually protect.
At SLU LAW, you have the opportunity to earn a concentration in intellectual property law.
The IP law concentration emphasizes information, analytical tools and skills lawyers require in representing clients' various intellectual property needs. You can specialize in courses that will expose you to the legal and practical issues that arise in intellectual property law.
No Science Degree Needed
A science/engineering degree is NOT necessary in order to practice IP law. Most areas of IP law have no requirements regarding one’s undergraduate major. Only the patent-drafting component of patent law requires a science/engineering degree, which is necessary to become a member of the Patent Bar, and thus be able to sign patent applications as the preparer and represent clients before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
There are a variety of opportunities for IP law concentration students during their time at SLU LAW.
Student Intellectual Property Law Association (SIPLA)
SIPLA, our active student group, aims to expose its members and the law school community to IP-related legal issues and to increase awareness of career opportunities in IP law. The group organizes a variety of speakers and programs throughout the year.
Professional Skills Competitions
SLU LAW students regularly participate in regional and national competitions in IP law-related areas. In February 2017, three students won first place in the International Patent Drafting Competition, held at the Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office in Detroit, Michigan. All three team members were part-time evening students in their fourth year of law school and held full-time day jobs.
A Front Row to IP in the Courthouse
Both the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit are located in the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse, which is mere steps away from SLU LAW. Our students have had “courtside” seats to several high-profile intellectual property cases heard there, such as the NFL Players Association case (Smith v. Nat’l Football League Players Ass’n) and the Mike Tyson/Hangover Part II tattoo case (Whitmill v. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.).
A recognized leader in Intellectual Property scholarship
As an indication of our growing reputation in the IP academic community, in February 2022 SLU LAW and Mizzou Law co-hosted the annual Works in Progress for Intellectual Property Scholars, held at Scott Hall. The WIPIP Scholars Colloquium is one of the premier annual academic IP conferences, and hosting is awarded via a competitive bidding process. During the two-day conference, IP faculty from across the country visited Saint Louis and presented their current research for feedback from colleagues.
Gain Experience in Field Placements
Field placements provide opportunities for law students to learn in intellectual property law practice settings. Placement experiences are intended to enrich students' legal education through skill development, increased understanding of substantive law, development of professional responsibility and identity, and institutional understanding.
Aramis Bryant, J.D., Class of 2019, Counsel, Business & Legal Affairs, CBS Sports at Paramount, says,
"I credit the faculty and staff at SLU LAW for helping me achieve professional success. The professors are invested in our success, always encouraging and challenging us so that we enter the world as prepared professionals."
Aramis Bryant, J.D., Class of 2019, Counsel, Business & Legal Affairs, CBS Sports at Paramount says, "I credit the faculty and staff at SLU LAW for helping me achieve professional success. The professors are invested in our success, always encouraging and challenging us so that we enter the world as prepared professionals."
Putting your education to work
Aramis Bryant graduated in 2019 with a concentration in IP law and served as the 2018-19 president of SIPLA. In the Legal Clinics, she represented entrepreneurs, participated in the USPTO trademark clinic, and counseled small businesses.
As a legal intern with NFL Films, Bryant drafted talent and licensing agreements, and she researched, acquired and licensed intellectual property such as movie clips, photos and magazine covers from third parties to use in NFL Films productions. After graduating, she worked at NFL Films, where she negotiated agreements with vendors, agents and outside attorneys to meet the legal standards of the NFL.
Today, she is Counsel, Business & Legal Affairs, CBS Sports at Paramount
IP in St. Louis
St. Louis is consistently ranked one of the fastest growing startup cities in America, making the city ripe with opportunities to practice IP law.
In addition to the traditional large firms’ IP practice groups, you’ll have opportunities for field placements in a variety of areas across the city, including:
- Anheuser-Busch InBev
- US Patent and Trade Office
- Federal Communications Commission
- Federal Trade Commission
- Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts
- SLU General Counsel’s Tech Transfer Office
- Large, small, solo firms
- General practice, boutique/specialized law firms
Exciting Speakers on Campus
In collaboration with fellow student groups, the Student Intellectual Property Law Association (SIPLA) brings popular and thought-provoking speakers to Scott Hall. Recent examples include Simon Tam, founder and bass player of rock band The Slants, who won a years-long legal battle at the U.S. Supreme Court to defend his band’s name, and Ese Ighedosa, then-associate counsel for the Carolina Panthers.
In their words
“SLU LAW’s location in downtown St. Louis allowed me to participate in internships during the school year that wouldn’t have been possible at other schools. This experience was crucial in securing a clerkship at the Missouri Supreme Court and a job at a St. Louis law firm after law school.”
— Paul Brusati, J.D., Class of 2015
“It’s rare to have such accomplished professors who are also so willing to help students out, as well. Even though I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the law when I started law school, SLU helped me figure that out and helped me figure out how to be a part of something bigger and help the community along the way.”
— Laura Beckering, J.D., Class of 2019
“Right out of the gate [during my internship] I was given meaningful work that was hand-picked for my interests in both sports law and international business transactions. My biggest surprise, by far, was how prepared I was to actually do the job and how much the firm let me do.”
— Aaron Reynolds, Class of 2021
In this podcast episode, Professor Yvette Joy Liebesman, the IP law concentration adviser, discusses how the United States Patent Office (USPTO) reviews granted patents.
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In this course you'll gain insights into entrepreneurship and the legal rules applicable to entrepreneurial ventures. Representing entrepreneurial ventures is different in practice from representing large corporations and their shareholders. This course will provide simulated experiences, which will allow you to provide representation for entrepreneurs in situations that a new company encounters from inception and initial growth to exiting the company.
This seminar applies various legal subjects to the art world. Topics discussed include: the shifting boundaries of what is Art and who is an Artist as a matter of law; Copyrights and Moral Rights; legal issues involving Museums, Galleries, and the Art Market; Art Crimes such as Theft, Forgery, and Money Laundering; legal complications related to the return of looted and pillaged art, antiquities, and cultural property; Tax and Employment issues; and the removal of Public Art and Art as an Agent of Social Change. One class is devoted to a painting lesson and a discussion to help students understand the artist-client’s perspective, and because the law can be fun.
This course examines the legal and regulatory environment of professional and amateur sports, with a special focus on labor law issues and negotiation. The lawyer's expanding opportunities and responsibilities are explored in this $60 billion a year industry commanding expertise in numerous and diverse practice areas. A working knowledge of labor and contract law will be established and applied as class projects call students to "represent" sports clients, such as: athletes, teams, coaches, leagues, etc. These class projects will heavily emphasize the students' negotiation skills and comfort with collective bargaining.
IP and Global Entrepreneurship
In this course, you'll examine the key IP legal issues that arise when a start-up company desires a global impact. For example, an inventor who develops a new, (maybe) patentable technology may wish to commercialize it and develop a start-up company based on it, and expand sales beyond the U.S. This company will face several legal issues, which changes its legal strategy from a purely domestic presence. At the end of the course, you will be able to identify what should be addressed when advising a client on both domestic and international IP issues related to a start-up company.
Social Media and Data Privacy
In 2018 the GDPR took effect in the European Union, protecting the rights of "data subjects" to control their data. In the U.S., however, data has largely been treated as a publicly-available resource that can be used by big tech indiscriminately. Social media companies have jumped on this by building complicated business models centered around data-based targeted advertising. Recent scandals involving data breaches, hidden political influence, online harassment, and the use of sensitive data in unexpected ways have led many to demand more regulation. This seminar examines the current environment for the regulation of social media and will explore social media's role in consumer, employment and healthcare relationships.
Emerging Health Technologies: Innovation, Law and Policy
In this seminar you will first examine the role of tools including patents, market exclusivity, grants and prizes in spurring the production and dissemination of new technologies. You'll look at the roles of institutions supporting scientific research, like the NIH, Google and NASA. Finally, you'll explore discrete topics in biomedical innovation: the landscape surrounding the development of oncology drugs, gene therapies and precision medicine, and controversies surrounding drug price gouging, medical 3-D printing and more.
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