IP: Dynamic Area of Legal Study Flourishing at NDLS

Author: Mark McKenna

By Mark McKenna, associate dean for faculty research and development and professor of law

Intellectual property law governs the development and use of intangible creations, including inventions, creative works, industrial designs, and trademarks. As intangible assets grow ever more important in the global economy, IP law is a thriving area of domestic and international practice.

The faculty at Notre Dame Law School have designed the Program of Study in Intellectual Property and Technology Law to give guidance to students interested in careers in intellectual property or related areas of law. The Law School offers three foundational IP courses: Patent Law, Copyright Law, and Trademarks & Unfair Competition. We strongly advise all students who intend to practice in the IP to take all three of those courses. A fourth foundational course, IP Survey, offers a broad-based introduction to all three of those major areas of IP law. That course is directed primarily at students initially exploring their interest in IP and technology law and those whose primary interests lie elsewhere, but who recognize that commercial litigation and business law practices will often implicate IP interests. 

The Program of Study offers a wide range of advanced courses in the three core areas of IP and in a number of related fields like privacy, information technology law, and antitrust. These courses can be combined to suit different substantive interests. Students primarily interested in patent law, for example, might take Patent Litigation, Patent Drafting, and/or our newest course on Post-Grant Proceedings. Students primarily interested in trademark law might take Trademark Prosecution and/or a seminar in Advanced Topics in Unfair Competition. Our course offerings also span the litigation/transactional spectrum. The Licensing Transactions course, for example, gives students the opportunity to draft licensing agreements for a wide range of settings. Our unique Design Law course pairs groups of students with industrial design students, whose design projects become the object of study for the course. 

The Program of Study also offers students a range of experiential learning options. Our Intellectual Property & Entrepreneurship Clinic gives students the chance to work directly with clients on their transactional IP needs (filing patent applications, drafting license agreements, counseling clients on IP strategy). Students can also take advantage of IP-related externships in South Bend, or in connection with programs in Chicago, Washington D.C., and London. These experiential learning opportunities are best regarded as capstone experiences, giving students the chance to build on and concretize knowledge developed in their coursework.

Mark P. McKenna teaches and writes in the area of intellectual property. McKenna is widely recognized as a leading scholar in the trademark area, having published a number of articles in leading law journals on the topic of trademark law. He has also written about design patent, copyright, the right of publicity, and the intersection of intellectual property rights regimes. Some of his latest projects include an empirical study of Lanham Act false advertising decisions, a comparative analysis of innovation institutions and failures, and a study of the ways IP law understands product dimensions.