Intl & Compar Patent Law (LAW-963-001)
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This is a two-credit, elective class with no formal prerequisites, although it is intended for students with some prior exposure to patent law. In particular, you should not feel that you need any specialized scientific or technical knowledge or any economic training to do well in the class. During the course of this semester, we will examine the treaties that comprise the body of international law that is sometimes referred to as “international patent law.” In particular, we will look at the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), and the impact that they have had on national patent regimes. We will review the TRIPS-related jurisprudence that has been developing through WTO dispute settlement, and consider the limited ability of private parties to play a role in those disputes. We will also consider the “TRIPS-plus” obligations that have been included in recent free trade agreements. We will examine the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and its role in international patent procurement.
As this is also a course in “comparative patent law,” we will indeed compare and contrast key aspects of patent laws around the world. In doing so, we will explore trends toward harmonization of national patent law regimes, and the obstacles to such harmonization (including in the United States). We will also consider the role of the European Patent Office, and its relationship to the domestic patent regimes of its member states.
Finally, we will consider some of the most controversial topics in patent law that legislators and practitioners around the world struggle with today, and the disparate ways in which countries and companies deal with these issues. In this respect, we will consider topics such as:
(1) The patenting of inventions in biotechnology, including the debate over patenting of genes and animal/human life, as well as the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity, including potential implications for patent disclosure requirements;
(2) The impact and role of patents in addressing global health issues; and
(3) The role of patents in protecting innovations in software and business methods; In considering these cutting-edge topics, we will be aided greatly by several guest lecturers, who will discuss their experiences dealing with some of these issues on a regular basis.
Adjunct professors Santamauro and Keating also will share their own experiences from government and private practice on the way in which these issues play out in the real world.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
1) Thomas Cottier, “The Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights”, in The World Trade Organization: Legal, Economic and Political Analysis, Vol. 1 (Springer 2005), pp.1043-1057
2) Vienna Convention on the Law Treaties: Preamble, Articles 31-33
3) Paris Convention, Articles 1 – 5quater
4) WIPO Intellectual Property Handbook: Policy, Law and Use. WIPO Publication No. 489(E) (2004), Chapter 2, pp. 17-34, available at http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/iprm.
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