Intellectual Property Law Survey
University of Maryland
For our first class meeting on August 24, please read all of chapter 1 (“Idea Protection”) and pages 1 to 19 of chapter 2 (“Trade Secrets”) in the coursepack. Be prepared to discuss the two problems at the end of chapter 1.
This course covers the basic doctrines of the major federal and state intellectual property regimes, including patent, trade secret, copyright, trademark, false advertising, and publicity rights. The coverage is broad rather than deep; the course provides an introduction to the essentials of intellectual property for students entering all areas of practice. The overlap with advanced courses in intellectual property is minimal. No technical background is required, as most fields of intellectual property are non-technical.
The course will ask and answer common questions for each distinct type of intellectual property:
- What kinds of things, or subject matter does it apply to?
- What procedures must one follow to secure protection?
- Who is an owner of the relevant rights?
- What conduct constitutes prohitibited infringement?
- How do we assess whether something is so similar as to infringe?
- What defenses protect defendants’ freedoms to create and to compete?
- What are the distinctive procedural and remedial aspects of IP litigation?
- What are the essential characteristics of IP transactions?
Most of the readings will be taken from a coursepack. I will upload new chapters here from time to time. The coursepack is a work in progress; I hope eventually to release it as a free casebook. I would greatly appreciate your feedback on it; please let me know what works and what doesn’t. I may occasionally also link to a breaking news story or topical YouTube video.
The coursepack contains the essential statutory excerpts, but I highly recommend that you obtain and consult an up-to-date statutory supplement that includes the Patent Act, the Copyright Act, and the Lanham (trademark) Act. I recommend the supplement compiled by James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins and made available as a free download. If you prefer a printed version, Amazon sells one for $12.50.
We meet Mondays and Wednesdays 10:25 to 11:50 in room 302. I will generally lecture on the cases and black-letter doctrine. I will sometimes call on students to discuss the implications of a rule after I have laid out the basics, but I will not generally ask you to present a case or its holding. The coursepack contains a number of problems; you should attempt to solve them before coming to class and we will discuss them in detail.
Here are my policies about class:
- The classroom generally will be a computer- and cell-phone-free zone. Bring a pad of paper, pens, and your undivided attention. I am doing this to help you concentrate, free from distractions. If this arrangement will be a hardship for you (for example, if you have a disability requiring the use of assistive technology), please contact Michelle Hayes in the Student Affairs office. She will work with you, me, and the Office of Educational Support and Disability Services to arrange an appropriate examination.
- To help you focus on understanding the material rather than worrying about transcribing everything that happens in class, I will provide slides and make them available on Blackboard following class. In addition, Media Services will record all class sessions and make them available to all students in the class.
- I expect you to be in class, unless you have a compelling reason to be absent (e.g. illness) and have notified me beforehand.
- Do the readings and bring them with you in hardcopy.
- Please arrive promptly. I promise that we will end on time, but that means we must start on time.
- Do the readings and be prepared to discuss the questions and problems. Being right is not essential — indeed, many of the problems have no “right” answer — but having an answer is.
- I call on students in class, mostly at random and mostly without advance warning. I will do everything I can to make the experience supportive and unthreatening. I will not ask you to present cases, but I will sometimes ask you to discuss their implications with me. (For example, when we discuss copyrightability, I typically show some pictures and ask students to discuss which aspects of them are are not protectable authorship.)
- It is always okay to interrupt me with a question. If something seems unclear to you, it is likely that others are also wondering the same thing.
- You should be respectful of and courteous towards your classmates. One of the skills you are learning as law students is how to be friendly and professional while disagreeing.
Office: Room 231
Phone: (410) 706-7260
Email: jgrimmelmann at law.umaryland.edu
Office hours: Thursdays, 1:30 to 3:00.
Email is the best way to reach me and will generally lead to the fastest response.
Last updated September 27, 2015
- August 24: Chapter 1 (Apfel, Desny), Chapter 2 pp. 1-19 (Lange, Learning Curve). Problems: Bizarro World, Debt Collection.
- August 26: Chapter 2, pp. 19-42 (Netcom, Rockwell, Christopher, Kamin). Problems: questions at 36, questions at 41
- August 31: Flaming Moe’s Problem, Locksmiths Problem, Chapter 3, pp. 1-13 (Subject Matter)
- September 2: Tax Planning Patent problem, Chapter 3, pp. 13-40 (Subject Matter cntd., Procedures), questions at 26
- September 9: Question at 38, Plastic-Sorting Problem, Salt Shaker Problem, Chapter 3, pp. 40-60 (Inventorship, Novelty).
- September 14: Questions at 49 and 59, Pleistocene Park Problem, Chapter 3, pp. 60-76 (Nonobviousness)
- September 16: Questions at 75, KSR Problem, Chapter 3, pp. 76-101 (Infringement)
- September 21: Super Soaker Problem, question at 96, Chapter 4, pp. 4-30 (Subject Matter)
- September 23: Arrows Problem, Cooking for Kids Problem, Hula Problem, Chapter 4, pp. 31-50
- September 28: Photoshoot Problem; Chapter 4, pp. 52-80
- September 30: Children’s Book Problem, New Yorker Problem, Bee Gees Problem ;Chapter 4, pp. 80-98
- October 5: Chapter 4, pp. 98-120
- October 7: Exclusive Rights Problem, Chicago HOPE Problem, Chapter 4, pp. 120-23; Chapter 5, p. 4
- October 12: Drug Stamps Problem; Chapter 5, pp.4-35
- October 14: Melting Bad Problem, Bilgewater Bill’s Problem at 35; Chapter 5, pp. 35-61
- October 19: Bilgewater Bill’s Problems at 36 and 42, Duff Problem, Trademark Throwback Problem; Chapter 5, pp. 62-87
- October 21: Cheat Sheet Problem, Boats Problem, Jack Daniel’s Problem; Chapter 5, pp. 88-108
- October 26: Confusion Problem, Dilution Lightning Round; Chapter 5, pp. 108-41
- October 28: Trademark Defenses Lightning Round; Chapter 6, pp. 3-27
- November 2: Satellite TV Problem; Chapter 6, pp. 28-39; Chapter 7, pp. 41-47
- November 4: Chapter 8, pp. 48-73
- November 9: Melting Bad Problem, Redux, Scavenger Hunt Problem (email me your list by 11:59 PM on November 7), Video Bonanza Problem, Chapter 8, pp. 74-101
- November 11: Governator Problem, Tony Twist Problem; Chapter 9, pp. 2-28
- November 16: Melting Bad Problem, Re-Redux; Eames Chair Problem, Eames Chair Problem, Revisited, Pez Dispenser Problem; Chapter 9, pp. 28-49
- November 18: Eames Chair Problem, Re-revisted, Smartphone Problem; review lecture
- November 23: Magic Trick Problem; review questions
There will be a 3-hour final exam on a date to be determined by the Registrar. It will be open-book and subject to a strict word limit. I will grade the final examinations blind to determine preliminary grades. I may then adjust preliminary grades up or down by a third of a letter grade — or, in extraordinary circumstances, two-thirds of a letter grade — baed on class participation. Good participation is anything that helps your classmates learn; bad participation is anything that detracts from their education.