School's IP program earns top ranking


– Photo by Robert Chase

Gerald Tschura (left) and David Berry are co-directors of the Intellectual Property Law program at Cooley.

By Debra Talcott

Legal News

The Intellectual Property Program at Cooley Law School is just one more source of pride for the institution after being ranked best in the nation by independent researchers at the William Mitchell Law School in St. Paul, Minn.

When Cooley’s IP law curriculum was compared to that of the other 221 law schools in the U.S., it was deemed first in number of IP courses offered and second in number of IP course categories.

David Berry, co-director of Cooley’s graduate program in Intellectual Property Law and a patent law professor, was pleased that the Mitchell Report on Intellectual Property Curricula confirmed the progress that Cooley has made in the past several years to develop a first-rate IP law curriculum.

“Many law schools suggest that they teach IP law but lack the comprehensive curriculum that Cooley has developed,” says Berry. “As we understand the study methodology, researchers examined the IP-related courses taught at all U.S. law schools by comparing them to a set of predetermined subject areas.

Cooley earned 24 points for the number of different IP courses offered, he said, which ranked first in the nation.

Berry added that Cooley offered at least one class in 15 of the 18 possible subject categories, which ranked second nationally.”

Berry and his colleague, professor and program co-director Gerald Tschura, joined the Cooley faculty in 2002 specifically to create a comprehensive intellectual program, including a Master of Laws (L.L.M.) program in IP Law.  Berry and Tschura are registered patent attorneys who have used their 30 years of combined experience in private and corporate IP practice to plan and develop the IP curriculum. 

Their backgrounds include domestic and international experience in patent, trademark, and copyright prosecution, litigation, and licensing.

Tschura has argued cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals and has experience in preparation and prosecution of applications for patents and trademarks before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Berry has represented companies in patent and license disputes in such fields as consumer products, biotechnology and biochemical engineering, semiconductor fabrication, computer devices, financial services, and e-commerce.

He, too, has argued successfully before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the federal circuit.

“From the beginning, Cooley’s IP Advisory Board, chaired by William Coughlin of Ford Global Technologies LLC, set as a goal a high-quality program that combined substantive knowledge and real-world skills to give our students the experience they would need to be successful IP practitioners,” says Berry.

Cooley’s program differs from those at other law schools in that it offers an L.L.M. degree program in IP, an IP concentration for J.D. students, and a Joint J.D./L.L.M. program for J.D. students who want to take graduate-level IP courses and later apply them to an L.L.M. degree.

The curriculum includes foundation courses in the major IP disciplines and practical skills courses in patent and trademark office practice.

“Cooley’s IP L.L.M. program is unique in that it has a required foundation course in Licensing of Intellectual Property-a complex area critical to a well-rounded IP practice,” adds Berry.

Tschura explains that the curriculum continues to grow in order to meet the demand of IP professionals.

He says the program “provides a wide assortment of coursework allowing students to concentrate their studies on, for example, a more patent law-oriented curriculum as compared to a more trademark and copyright-oriented path. 

“As the field of Intellectual Property continues to have a global reach, we have expanded — and continue to expand — our curriculum to include international and comparative IP courses such as International Trademark Law and Intellectual Property Law in China and the Pacific Rim, among others,” says Tschura. “We are also expanding our curriculum to meet the needs of those interested in pursuing an IP career related to the music, publishing, and entertainment industries.”

Tschura says that because Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus is located in Southeast Michigan, their students have access to adjunct faculty consisting of highly talented and experienced IP professionals with varied experience in the automotive, biotechnology, and computer technology industries.

Over the past few years, Cooley has expanded its graduate program online course offerings so that all of the degree requirements for the Master of Laws in Intellectual Property Law can be met entirely online.

“Our online courses are delivered in a synchronous, interactive live format providing a virtual classroom environment,” explains Tschura.  “As such, we can offer our graduate IP curriculum throughout the country and throughout the globe on either a full or part-time basis.  Of course, the same courses are offered in a traditional classroom setting as well.”

Berry explains that Intellectual Property Law is now recognized as one of the most important legal specialties for the modern U.S. economy. 

As domestic companies involved in the global market rely on technology to remain competitive, they require IP attorneys to protect their interests.

“With the expanding information sector of the economy, entirely new business models rely on developing and protecting proprietary content,” he says. “As an added factor, companies competing globally over the Internet face trademark protection issues that they would not have had if they were limited to brick and mortar storefronts. That makes IP increasingly important, not just in the U.S., but internationally.”

Cooley IP graduates can now be found working in law firms with specialized IP practices as well as in corporations and organizations throughout the U.S. and other countries.

Berry appreciates the opportunity to work with the students in his classes who will comprise the next generation of attorneys in this cutting-edge field.

“Almost every semester, the courses I teach involve important changes to the law that are taking place from week to week,” says Berry.  “For example, my Patent Law class this term discussed the impact of the Supreme Court’s Mayo v. Prometheus decision jeopardizing the patent-eligibility of medical diagnostic processes, which was decided in the middle of the semester. 

In addition, during the term the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office began issuing proposed regulations to implement the far-ranging changes made by the America Invents Act, signed by President Obama in September 2012 and to be implemented in phases through early 2013. 

Staying current with these developments is challenging.  It’s also a challenge to interpret them and incorporate them into current course materials.  But that’s par for the course in IP Law.”