How well can you keep a secret? How about a secret that has been around for over a century and is one of the most sought after secrets in the world? Well, that’s the challenge for those who know the world-famous secret formula of the original Coca-Cola, better known as Coke. The company protects the formula by shrouding it in a great amount of secrecy. But, how did this formula come to be and how it is protected under intellectual property law?
“The Ohio State University.” If you’re an avid watcher of NFL football like myself, you’ve heard former Ohio State football players utter that phrase in their pre-recorded introductions on NBC’s broadcasts of the games. So many Ohio State alums, both football players and non-football players alike, love identifying their school in that fashion.
I was excited to take the Intellectual Property Survey course at Loyola with Professor Ho in the fall of 2021. However, when the class got to the topic of copyright, I struggled with two topics in that area, one of which was “improper appropriation.” This dealt with a part of the copyright infringement test that determined whether there was substantial similarity between the two works at issue based only on their protectable expression as I discussed in “Righting about Copyright, Part 1.”
Coming into law school at Loyola, I was really interested in learning about intellectual property (IP) law and possibly even making a career out of it. During my fall 2L semester, I had the chance to take my first IP course: the Intellectual Property Survey course. I was so excited to finally be able to study IP, and was eagerly anticipating the class.
Companies have all kinds of intellectual property (IP), including trademarks, but just how important is that IP to a company? As a business attorney for nearly 40 years, Professor Patricia Lee of Loyola can tell you that trademarks and other forms of IP are hugely important and becoming more important every day.
As the director of the Loyola Business Law Clinic, Prof. Lee and her students find that trademark and other IP issues are a natural part of assisting and counseling the clinic’s clients. “Trademarks are very important to business startups and non-profit organizations,” said Prof. Lee.
So, where is Prof. Lee from and how did she get into business?
When I first learned about intellectual property (“IP”) law, my initial impression was that a large portion of IP involves patents and that patent law was only reserved for former science majors. However, my impression was wrong. In the past year, I learned that IP law is not solely focused on patents and that not every aspect of practicing patent law requires a science background.
Let me explain how I learned that and how Loyola Law played a major role in that story.