Intellectual Property Focus Area

The Intellectual Property (IP) focus area centers around the three main federal legal means for protecting and exchanging proprietary rights in intangibles: federal patent, copyright and trademark law. It also covers state laws such as unfair competition, trade secret law, employee restrictive covenants and other private legal rights. Combined and applied to artistic and scientific creations, these legal regimes structure the entertainment and high-tech sectors of the global economy. Considered an essential cornerstone of modern legal practice, IP also implicates the access, distribution, preservation and transformation of cultural forms and practices.

Pedagogical Goals

By focusing on IP, students should develop the following basic competencies before graduation:

  • a relatively sophisticated substantive knowledge about IP;
  • an understanding of how this body of substantive law intersects with litigation and transactional practices, as well as legislation and administrative law-making;
  • specific skills such as licensing, contract drafting and negotiation; and
  • a grasp of major relevant policy and theoretical concerns in this area.

Like the other focus areas, the IP focus area will provide students with an in-depth look rather than a superficial survey of this particular area of the law. It neither purports to cover all the knowledge students may need to practice competently nor does it guarantee that the student will end up practicing in this area. In addition to the core IP classes described here, students are advised to take additional courses in business law, civil litigation and commercial law; moreover, students must understand that formal legal education provides a foundation for lifelong learning in the law.

Considerations Prior to Taking the Focus Courses

Because IP is sufficiently complex and specialized (both legally and occasionally technically), a student’s commitment to this focus area should be preceded by an assessment of the realistic likelihood of practicing the intellectual property area. IP is not limited to those with a technical background: English or even art majors can practice successfully in this area. Indeed, the artistic and technological sides of IP are rapidly converging; this is most evident in the medium of the Internet. And even those students who do not anticipate IP as a primary practice focus may benefit from studying this focus area, provided that the student is ready and willing to learn about the technical aspects. IP is increasingly considered to be a practice area that should be familiar to all competent general practitioners, not just to specialists. Please note that IP students need not have a science or engineering background unless a student anticipates sitting for the patent bar examination (required for prosecuting patent applications). Many successful IP practitioners do not have a science background and did not have IP curriculum when they attended law school!

Intellectual Property Faculty

Career Faculty
Margaret Chon Intellectual Property, Copyright Law, International IP, Advanced Topics in IP
Gregory Silverman* Intellectual Property, Trade Secret Law

* Focus Area Chair

Adjunct Faculty
Ramsey Al-Salam Patent and Trade Secret Law
Jerry Chiang Entertainment Law
Cameron J. Collins Entertainment Law
Robert Cumbow Trademark Law
Shasun Glenn Advertising Law
Larry Graham Patent Litigation Lab, Patent Prosecution Lab
Alison Ivey Law and Business Art and Cultural Heritage
Kelsey Joyce Advertising Law
Erica Krikorian Arts Legal Clinic
Nicholas Mitchell IP Licensing Lab
Gary Myles Biotechnology & the Law
Jeffrey Pepe Biotechnology & the Law
Chad Smith Trademark Administration Lab
Karin Bornstein Swope Arts Legal Clinic
Mark Wittow Arts Legal Clinic; Advanced Copyright Law

Focus Area Requirements

Students must take the Intellectual Property survey class and at least two of the following courses: Copyright Law, Patent and Trade Secret Law, or Trademark Law. Together, these second and third year courses introduce students to the basic tools needed to explore more sophisticated topics in IP in the third year.

In order to complete the IP focus, students will also be required to take one skills class and three courses from a list of electives over the spring semester second year and the third year. The electives include the three foundational courses (Trademark, Copyright, and Patent Law), as well as the list of courses at the end of the document. Any one of the foundational classes that are not used to satisfy the second year foundational requirements can be credited towards the elective requirement. For example, the two-credit Copyright Law class can be taken as an elective course requirement as long as the student has taken both Intellectual Property and one of either the Patent and Trade Secret Law or Trademark Law classes. This flexibility in course requirements will allow students the maximum design latitude, in order to complete the focus area successfully while enrolling in important non-focus area courses.

Please note that the survey Intellectual Property course is a prerequisite for most of the courses in the focus area and should be taken in the fall of the second year if possible.

For the required skills component, students may choose from among several IP lab courses. An intellectual property externship or clinic will also fulfill the skills requirement.

Plan the completion of your focus area with a focus area tracking form.

Course Descriptions

To recap, in order to complete a focus in Intellectual Property law, students would take the following:

Required Foundational Courses

  • Intellectual Property (3 cr) and 2 courses from the following list, or all 3 of the courses below:
    • Copyright Law (3 cr)
    • Patent Law (4 cr)
    • Trademark Law (2 cr)
    • Trade Secret Law (2 cr)

Required Skills Component (one course from the following list)

  • IP Externship (3-4 cr)
  • IP Licensing Lab (1 cr)
  • Patent Litigation Lab (1 cr)
  • Patent Prosecution Lab (1 cr)
  • Trademark Administration Lab (1 cr)

Electives (at least 3 additional courses from the following list; note that not all electives are offered every year so please plan accordingly)

  • Adv. Topics in IP (2-3 cr)
  • Advertising Law (3 cr)
  • Antitrust (3 cr)
  • Arts Legal Clinic (1 cr)
  • Biotechnology & the Law (2 cr)
  • Copyright Law (2 cr)
  • Entertainment Law (3 cr)
  • Information Privacy (2 cr)
  • IP Licensing Law (2 cr)
  • International IP (2 cr)
  • Patent Law (4 cr)
  • Sports Law (2 cr)
  • Trademark Law (2 cr)
  • Trade Secret Law (2 cr)

Intellectual Property Co-Curricular and Enrichment Opportunities

The IP Focus Area also works with bar associations, local IP firms, student organizations and scholarship providers, and other schools to bring our students various co-curricular activities and opportunities. The IP Focus Area sponsors an annual meet and greet with the Intellectual Property Section of the Washington State Bar Association. It sponsors public lectures on current intellectual property issues by nationally recognized scholars in the field. It assists and supports the Seattle University Intellectual Property Law Society (IPLS), whose primary purpose is to provide a forum for Seattle University students who are interested in Intellectual Property (IP) and wish to learn more about the practice of IP. The IP Focus Area, together with the IPLS, provides various educational events ranging from Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars to career panels comprised of local IP practitioners.

In addition to these events, the IP Focus Area works to identify and develop various scholarship opportunities for our students such as the Seed IP Law Group Founders Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded each year to a Seattle University law student with a strong interest in the field of intellectual property law. The Seed IP Law Group is one of the top-rated intellectual property law firms in the United States. The scholarship honors the firm’s founders, Dick Seed and Ben Berry, for their contributions to the law of intellectual property. As expressed by Bill Ferron of the Seed IP Law Group, "We think it's very important to train the next generation of intellectual property attorneys so that we can continue to build on the legacy started by Ben Berry and Dick Seed. Only through strong support of higher education will our country continue to be a leader in the world." The scholarship recipient receives $5,000.00.

Each year the IP Focus Area faculty select a student to receive the Washington State Bar Association Intellectual Property Section (WSBA IPS) Scholarship. This $1000 scholarship is awarded to a student with a demonstrated commitment to practicing in some area of intellectual property law, such as intellectual property litigation, transactional work or patent prosecution.

Each year the IP Focus Area faculty also nominate an outstanding third-year law student who has demonstrated excellence in the area of intellectual property law for the Jan Jancin Award in Intellectual Property Law. The award is administered by the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation (AIPLEF) on behalf of the American Bar Association – Intellectual Property Law Section, the American Intellectual Property Law Association and the AIPLEF. The award honors the late Jan Jancin, who served as President of AIPLA and Chair of the ABA-IPL Section. The award is currently $5,000.