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Program in Intellectual Property Law

Reproduced with permission of the Law Bulletin Publishing Company.
Kate Schott, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, December 13, 2002, at 3.

Proposed LLM would be first of its kind

At a recent meeting, the faculty at Chicago-Kent College of Law unanimously approved a new master's degree program in International Intellectual Property Law at the downtown school. The LLM degree would be the first of its kind in the nation -- and possibly the world, law school officials said.

If approved by the American Bar Association and the Illinois Institute of Technology, affiliated with Chicago-Kent, students could begin the program in August and the first class of students would graduate in May 2004.

Graeme Dinwoodie is a Chicago-Kent professor and director of the school's Program in Intellectual Property. He said the international aspect of IP law has become more popular in the last five or six years.

"I almost never think of intellectual property matters in purely domestic terms now," he said. "It's gone from a subject that only a few of us were teaching to a subject that ... should be an important part of the law school curriculum."

Dinwoodie said international intellectual property law can entail a wide variety of matters related to the general public -- music and medicine, for example. Also on a global level, those seeking patents no longer want to market their product only locally, but rather internationally.

"At the moment there truly is a gap in education related to international IP," he said. "There's been a mushrooming in IP courses ... that reflects the increased importance of intellectual property. As the exploitation of products become internationalized, it's important to know the international laws as well."

The one-year program will require student to complete a thesis through a graduate seminar supervised by Dinwoodie. Students can also choose to take an international IP or patent law course. Because most students will be from foreign countries, a course in the American legal system will be offered.

Chicago-Kent College of Law Dean Harold J. Krent said: "We are focusing principally upon students from abroad."

He said the school is "increasingly aware of the fact that there is a demand for a greater understanding of the western legal principles and our perspectives on teaching the law are much appreciated by individuals in other countries."

Dinwoodie agreed, saying he's received calls from students and lawyers in foreign countries seeking information about an education in international intellectual property law.

"In many ways we're already seeing direct signs from them that there's an interest," he said.

Because Chicago-Kent faculty has participated in international events and due to the school's LLM program in International and Comparative Law, among other programs, Chicago-Kent has strong ties to legal communities overseas.

Dinwoodie did say, however, that American students who have earned a J.D. and current practicing American attorneys will be considered for the program.

Dinwoodie and Chicago-Kent Professor Timothy R. Holbrook, who also teaches IP law, are both tenure-track. Dinwoodie says it's rare to have two tenure-track professors writing and teaching in the field of international intellectual property law at the same school.

Five other full-time professors at Chicago-Kent teach in the field, Dinwoodie said.

The new program will "cement Chicago-Kent's reputation as an IP program dealing with cutting edge issues," he said.



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