“Intellectual property is a hot legal area. And there are no signs of it cooling down,” says Janice Mueller, highly regarded patent scholar and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
The Internet. File-sharing. Social networking sites. The Human Genome Project. Gene therapy. These are just some of the many innovations and technologies that have shaped a radically new intellectual property environment.
The field’s unprecedented growth reflects vast expansion in the U.S. technology and information sectors in recent decades—a growth that has spawned tremendous innovation and, subsequently, huge markets, in such areas as software development and usage, biotechnology, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals.
In the midst of this red-hot IP landscape, Pitt Law’s IP Program has emerged as one of the hottest IP programs in the country. Over the last several years, U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked Pitt’s IP Program among the top 30 IP programs in the nation.
Its rise in reputation in the last ten years is a nod to the number and renown of its IP faculty, the breadth and scope of its offerings, its scholarship, and its graduates, now making their mark as leaders in the IP field across the country.
Few law schools have multiple strengths across the diverse IP terrain. Yet Pitt Law’s Program is as strong in biotechnology law, patent and copyright law as it is in media and entertainment law, cyberlaw and information and technology law.
As is the breadth and depth of innovation in a city that Pitt Law calls home. Pittsburgh is a city of enterprise and innovation both past and present—from the first commercial radio station to the polio vaccine, to today’s pioneering artists and scientists. In the life sciences. In chemical and materials science. In computer science. In entertainment technology. In the arts.
From program excellence to location, it’s not hard to see why students from across the country are drawn to Pitt’s IP Program—a program that is expertly preparing students to meet the challenges of this burgeoning field.
Pitt Law’s Intellectual Property and Technology Law Certificate Program offers second- and third-year students an opportunity for concentrated study in the field, where they can choose from a diverse palette of courses. Nearly 17 courses are offered, ranging from the theoretical and basic skills courses to more specialized courses such as biotechnology law, cyberspace and the law, telecommunications law, and a patent litigation course taught by noted patent litigators.
“Every law school in the country offers coursework in intellectual property law. But the depth and scope of our offerings—especially among the more specialized courses—truly sets the program apart,” says Certificate Program Director Janice Mueller.
Of course, the classes are only as good as those who teach them. And Pitt Law students are taught by some of the most noted names in intellectual property law, bringing a wealth of practical experience, scholarship and technological expertise to the classroom. Three full-time Pitt Law faculty members, recognized among the country’s leading IP scholars, teach IP program courses in concert with a host of accomplished adjunct faculty members, practitioners from some of the nation’s leading law firms who are distinguished members of the Pittsburgh bar.
For example, the Patent Law Practice course, where students learn how to prepare and write patent applications, is a longstanding component of this program, taught by adjunct faculty member, Lynn Alstadt, ’76, of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC. Many students point to that course as one of the most important and effective courses of their academic careers.
The growth in Pitt Law’s IP Program coincided with the arrival of copyright and trademark scholar, Professor Michael Madison. Madison, now Pitt Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research, helped shape and direct Pitt’s IP Program over the past ten years, and is recognized as a key figure in the program’s national rise. Madison helped build an IP program at Pitt based on the foundation created by internationally renowned IP pioneer Pamela Samuelson—the founding faculty member of Pitt’s IP discipline.
Madison’s scholarship examines how IP law connects to social and cultural standards. In addition to his casebook, The Law of Intellectual Property (with Craig Nard and David Barnes), he has written extensively on legal issues involving new technology and the media, including several articles and book chapters on fair use. Madison is one of four law professors who, along with other experts, served on a national team to develop the new “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video.” Sponsored by the American University’s Center for Social Media, the new guidelines were designed to help creators of online video navigate some of the legal ambiguities they face when using Web sites such as YouTube. He had also helped develop a similar best practices statement for fair use in documentary filmmaking.
As Director of Pitt Law’s Intellectual Property and Technology Law Certificate Program, Professor Janice Mueller has also played a significant role in the growth and reputation of Pitt’s IP Program. A registered U.S. patent attorney and chemical engineer, Mueller began her career clerking for “one of the most important jurists in modern patent law,” the Honorable Giles Sutherland Rich, and went on to serve as a patent litigator, litigating patent infringement cases for the U.S. Department of Justice.
She is the author of one of the essential texts used in law schools across the country, An Introduction to Patent Law. Much of Mueller’s scholarship studies the decisions handed down from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit—the federal appeals court specializing in patent law—and the court where she once clerked. Yet one of her most recent works is an analysis of the Supreme Court case, KSR v. Teleflex, critiquing this first Supreme Court ruling in several decades to address the key patentability criteria of nonobviousness.
Mueller’s other scholarship takes a fascinating look at international/comparative patent laws, addressing, in particular, patent law reform in India. Mueller spent a month in India looking at its emerging patent law system. Prior to its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), India had not granted pharmaceutical patents. With its sweeping patent changes came one of many new provisions—creating a presumption against patent evergreening—the first of its kind worldwide. In her work, “The Tiger Awakens: The Tumultuous Transformation of India’s Patent System and the Rise of Indian Pharmaceutical Innovation,” Mueller presents a comparative analysis of India’s new patent law to that of the U.S. and how it complies with the standards set forth by the WTO.
The third Pitt Law scholar integral to Pitt’s IP Program is Professor Kevin Ashley, an internationally known expert in artificial intelligence and the law, whose book, Modeling Legal Argument: Reasoning with Cases and Hypotheticals, has been described “as the most frequently cited book in the field of artificial intelligence and the law.” (For more information about Professor Ashley’s work, see “A Window on the Future,” pg. 31, Spring 2008, Pitt Law Magazine.)
Pitt Law faculty such as Assistant Professor and Director of the Barco Law Library, George Pike, also contribute to the wealth of program expertise. A monthly contributor to Information Today, Pike teaches copyright law and Internet law in the Program, and is a frequent lecturer around the country on copyright and fair use issues.
Pitt Law’s IP faculty collaborate with the world’s leading IP scholars in their scholarship, on professional committees, and in workshops. The School regularly hosts academic conferences in IP law, and its Annual Distinguished Lecture Series is but one example of how the School brings together scholars from around the world to discuss the latest scholarship and developments in the field. The fourth in that series is slated for February of 2009, featuring Professor Dr. Annette Kur, author of numerous books and articles on European industrial design and trademark protection and a member of the NYU Law School’s Hauser Global Law Faculty.
While known for their scholarship in intellectual property law, Pitt Law faculty are also recognized for their teaching excellence. “The Pitt Law IP faculty were the formative voices—those professors who helped shape and form my knowledge of IP law—and who
not only prepared me well, but opened the door to numerous opportunities,” says Henry Huffnagle, ’03, an associate in the Intellectual Property group of Arent Fox, LLP, Washington, D.C.
And students do have numerous opportunities at Pitt Law to advance their understanding of intellectual property and technology law. They can contribute to the School’s Journal of Technology Law and Policy, compete for fellowships, or participate in two IP Moot Court competitions—in the Cardozo/BMI Entertainment Communications Law Moot Court Competition held at Cardozo Law School in New York City and in the Giles Sutherland Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition sponsored by the American Intellectual Property Law Association.
Numerous Pitt alumni have distinguished careers within the field of intellectual property, such as Lynn Alstadt (see above) and Q. Todd Dickinson, ’77, Executive Director of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and former Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Today, Pitt Law is preparing the next generation of intellectual property attorneys, trained in what has emerged as one of the country’s best IP programs, and who are now making their mark in this increasingly dynamic field. They are IP practitioners in some of the nation’s leading firms—in careers that reflect the diversity of the IP landscape. The following are four rising IP attorneys, graduates of a rising Pitt Law program.
Henry Huffnagle had been an artist. A sculptor, photographer and painter, it was his book, Framing the Body—a compilation of his own artistic creations, that piqued his interest in the idea of ownership and protecting one’s creation. That interest ultimately propelled him to law school, where at Pitt Law he soon came to see a natural connection between his artistic side and his interest in IP law.
“It was a natural way for me to bridge these two worlds,” says Huffnagle. “I can continue to keep one foot in the artistic world as I work to protect the work of artists and other creative endeavors.”
Huffnagle, now a trademark and copyright attorney at Arent Fox, LLP, counsels clients regarding the selection, clearance and prosecution of their trademarks. He also represents them in connection with a variety of copyright matters. Huffnagle and his firm do extensive work in trademark enforcement on the Internet, often against counterfeiters who use protected trademarks in domain names and on Web sites.
“Trademark and copyright law have exploded as electronic media, including social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Second Life have taken off. Questions of rights of publicity, use of trademarks on Web sites, and a host of unique clearance issues have surfaced, presenting complicated new issues.”
While at Pitt Law, Huffnagle interned with the late Carol Los Mansmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Chief Magistrate Judge Francis X. Caiazza of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. He served as Executive Editor of the University of Pittsburgh Law Review.
“I know that my professors at Pitt Law prepared me well. The School has a good reputation—it is seen as a very good brand here in D.C.—and my education has allowed me to be competitive in this marketplace. I thank professors such as Michael Madison—a brilliant copyright scholar—and many of the law professors at Pitt who I still rely on and call upon as mentors.”
Like Huffnagle, many IP lawyers have entered the field as a second career. Christina Ondrick, ’00, approached the field of IP law in much the same way. Working as an oil, gas and petroleum engineer, she provided consulting services to chemical and energy companies before moving to a law career where she could “blend two complicated and fascinating fields.”
Ondrick has drawn upon her engineering background in her work in the Washington, D.C., office of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP, representing clients in IP matters involving telecommunications, chemical, electrical, and medical device technologies. From “smart cards,” telecommunications’ transmission devices, retinal scan devices, injection-molded plastics technology, to cardiac stent technology, Ondrick helps protect companies’ intellectual property rights and defend against charges of infringement. She also helps develop licensing and intellectual property protection strategies for her clients’ products and services. She has been lead and co-counsel in numerous cases before Federal District Courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. She is also registered to practice in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Rolando Medina, Ph.D. and C. Allen Black, Jr., Ph.D., graduates of the Pitt Law Class of ’03, both specialize in the area of biotechnology patent law.
As an associate in WilmerHale’s Intellectual Property Department and a member of its Technology Transfer and Licensing Group in Boston, Massachusetts, Medina works with clients in areas ranging from cell biology, neurobiology, immunology, virology, molecular biology, to biochemistry. From vaccines that boost immunity to nanoparticles that deliver cancer therapies, Medina is working with scientists who are discovering new molecular targets for various diseases, as well as developing cutting-edge therapies to combat them.
Medina, who holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Yale, studied cell biology as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale prior to coming to Pitt Law.
“I went to Pitt Law specifically to be a patent attorney. Being an IP attorney allows me to work with scientists on the cutting-edge of science, and allows me to use my science background. While I enjoyed my work as a research scientist, I realized that a life at the research bench was not for me.
“So now I can continue to learn about advances in such diseases as cancer, liver disease, and multiple sclerosis without being the person at the bench running experiments. I engage with scientists and inventors, and rely on them to teach me about their technology and inventions so that I can do my job. This can include assessing whether their inventions are patentable, filing patent applications, arguing with the Patent Office to get their patents issued, and possibly helping them enter into partnerships to bring their patented inventions to market. However, none of this is possible without a basic understanding of the technology underlying their inventions.
“IP law is a fascinating, exciting discipline. And I love it.”
As does C. Allen Black, Jr., an associate in the Pittsburgh office of Pepper Hamilton LLP, who regularly assists those clients in patent preparation and prosecution—from companies developing early detection and treatments for diseases such as diabetes to scientists seeking gene and therapy patents, ranging from regulating blood pressure to stemming infection.
Upon receiving his Ph.D. in immunology, Black conducted postdoctoral training at Magee-Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh, where he worked on development of an HPV vaccine as part of his infectious disease research. He was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, focusing on vaccine development for infectious diseases and cancer, before he made the decision to enter law school.
“I chose Pitt Law for its outstanding IP Program. Once there, the IP professors offered tremendous guidance and served as great mentors in the field.”
Among his many contributions and honors while at Pitt Law, Black won the Samuelson-Glushko Fellowship in Intellectual Property, the CALI award for outstanding scholarship in Intellectual Property, and the Faculty Awards for Excellence in Legal Scholarship.
Black is an Adjunct Professor of Law in Pitt’s IP Program where he teaches biotechnology law, addressing issues from biotechnology’s beginnings in the 1970s to the governance, distribution and importance of biotechnology patents, bioterrorism law, as well as contract and securities issues involving patents.
Henry Huffnagle, Christina Ondrick, Rolando Medina, and C. Allen Black, Jr. are but four of the many recent Pitt Law alumni making an impact in the field of IP law. IP practitioners face a complicated, fascinating set of issues and questions now and into the foreseeable future, some of which include patent reform in the next Congress; an increasingly overburdened U.S. Patent Office; the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s KSR decision; the continuing controversy over gene patents; and the controversial issue of the patentability of financial planning methods and other business methods.
The questions will continue to evolve, as does the very discipline itself. So, too, Pitt Law’s IP Program will continue to evolve as it continues to prepare future generations of IP lawyers—to tackle those questions and the questions yet to be asked.