I started telling people I was going to law school just about one year ago. One of the first questions everybody asked was whether I was going into IP law. I had been working in software development for several years, so the assumption made sense given my technology background. I had other plans though.
The answer to this question might seem obvious that public health—and especially protecting the public from the coronavirus pandemic—should always take precedent. But, a recent dispute before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois highlights a conflict that judges likely did not contemplate when entering General Orders to protect public health.
You might know that patents exist to incentivize innovation. In other words, the inventor who meets patent standards is given a period of market exclusivity (permitting the inventor to exclude others from various activities involving the patented invention) in exchange for publicly disclosing his/her invention. While this may be sufficient incentive for many technological areas, rare diseases pose a unique challenge.
Drug companies don’t generally target rare diseases. Why? A small patient population means that even if expensive research efforts are successful, there will not be a large return on investment. In 1983, the Orphan Drug Act (ODA) was passed with the intent to solve this problem. Has it worked? The answer to this question is more complicated than it may seem. Continue reading
I will never forget the first time I heard it. It was in an information session hosted by my high school’s college counseling department. The college counselor was talking about finding the “right school for you” by evaluating criteria like school size and location. He suggested, for example, if we liked the big, midwestern feeling of the University of Michigan campus, that we also consider visiting the University of Iowa or Ohio State University. And then it happened. He stopped, and with a wry smile said, “oh I’m sorry, THE Ohio State University.” I didn’t end up attending OSU, as I chose the University of Wisconsin instead, but that memory resurfaced this summer after it was announced that OSU had decided to attempt to trademark the word “the.”Continue reading
Rising drug prices have led to major issues with providing broad access to medicine around the world. While these issues receive significant media attention, it is important to understand fully why these problems exist in order to come up with real solutions. My perspective is shaped in large part by my background as a scientist. As a researcher, I viewed the issue purely through a scientific lens. I was focused on how to improve the drug development process through the technologies we were creating. However, I realized that there were also legal issues constraining technology development that spurred my interest in attending law school to pursue a career in patent law. As a first-year law student, my perspective has already broadened. I now know about legal barriers that can inhibit the impact of those technologies on global access to improved and cheaper medicine.Continue reading
Looking for a way to illicit immediate shock and interest from consumers? Why not have one of America’s most fascinating swear words be related to your product or business? A Los Angeles-based clothing company founded by designer Erik Brunetti uses the infamous brand name “FUCT.”
Despite the company’s success, the brand has never been accepted as a federally protected trademark; in other words, he has been unsuccessful in seeking to “register” this term with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This stifles his ability to stop others from using a similar trademark, even if it will cause confusion—unless a pending Supreme Court case changes the law.Continue reading
Day 1. The blue line makes yet another jerky stop, and you check your watch nervously to make sure you’re still on time. Phew. You are relieved to see that you’re going to arrive early for your first day of work, but nevertheless, you start to shift uncomfortably in your seat. Your discomfort, prompted partially by the stiff new dress shoes that you’re wearing (but mostly by the anxiety of starting a new job where you might encounter IP issues) starts to dissipate. With a quick shake of your head, you brush off the jitters. Relax, you tell yourself. You’re prepared – after all, you’ve easily tackled IP issues in class.Continue reading
Women’s voices are underrepresented. Recent examples abound in news reporting, Op-Eds, economics, and politics. The patent world is no exception. Women still continue to make up just a small fraction, about 21 percent, of inventors on patent applications, as noted in a recent USPTO Report. However, women have been creating, designing, and innovating for centuries. So, why is there a gap?
Ladies and Gentlemen…
On March 14, 2019, the at-capacity crowd in the ceremonial Federal Courtroom at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago, IL, buzzed with anticipatory excitement. The audience gathered for this evening’s presentation of arguments was not the typical smattering of members of the public, interested parties, and news reporters. Rather, the audience sitting in the gallery consisted of attorney members of the Richard Linn American Inn of Court, an organization committed to the principles of professionalism, civility, and ethics in the practice of intellectual property law. The attorney members and guests, such as myself, were in attendance for the Annual Oral Advocacy Challenge. This event involves Inn participants in oral arguments regarding current IP issues for which there is no settled law before a panel of actual judges that simulates proceedings before appellate court judges.Continue reading