The field of intellectual property law includes the legal regimes that protect the intangible creations of inventors, authors, and marketers. The primary bodies of intellectual property law are patent, copyright, and trademark. Patent law confers and regulates rights in the products and processes created by inventors. Copyright law confers and regulates rights in works created by authors and artists, such as books, music, movies, artworks, and many others. Trademark law confers and regulates rights in words and symbols that identify the source of a good or service.
Lawyers who specialize in intellectual property law practice in a wide variety of institutional settings—including private law firms large and small, in-house legal departments, government agencies, and public interest organizations—and do many different kinds of legal work—including litigating cases, prosecuting applications for patents and trademarks, negotiating and documenting transactions, counseling clients, and making policy.
The significance of intellectual property in the U.S. and world economies has grown dramatically in recent decades, and UCI Law offers substantial opportunities for students interested in this increasingly important field.
Several foundational courses cover the major areas of the field—Introduction to Intellectual Property; Copyright Law; Patent Law; and Trademark Law. The Introduction to Intellectual Property course is a survey course that provides some exposure to each area, but in much less depth than the individual foundational courses in Patent Law, Copyright Law, and Trademark Law.
To explore the field beyond the foundational courses, a number of advanced courses and seminars are available, including Digital Copyright; Entertainment Law; Cross-Border Trade in Intellectual Property; Technical Protection of Author’s Rights; and Antitrust and Intellectual Property Rights. In addition, students can pursue directed research projects on topics of interest under the supervision of one of the faculty members who specialize in intellectual property. Some projects undertaken by the Community Economic Development Clinic have involved copyright and trademark issues. In Fall 2014, the Law School will launch a legal clinic where students will develop hands-on legal practice skills in intellectual property matters.
For more information on choosing courses in the IP field, see this guide.
Opportunities in intellectual property law at UCI Law go beyond the classroom. The law school has hosted short-term visiting faculty from overseas who specialize in intellectual property and have presented their work to student audiences, and UCI’s John S. & Marilyn Long U.S.-China Institute for Business & Law is pursuing a multi-year collaborative research project on intellectual property issues.
Two student organizations, the Intellectual Property & Cyberlaw Society and the Entertainment Law Society, organize events for students interested in the area. Faculty working in the field hire students as research assistants to help with cutting-edge research. And students have participated in the First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition, sponsored by the ABA Forum on Communications Law, which has involved issues of copyright law.
UC Irvine School of Law also regularly hosts major international conferences on intellectual property and related issues of high technology.
- Upcoming Conference: The Meaning of Myriad, Sept. 12, 2014
- Past Conference: Governing the Magic Circle: Regulation of Virtual Worlds, April 8, 2011
- Past Conference: Bend or Break: The Patent System in Crisis, Jan. 22, 2010
UCI Law’s distinguished faculty includes experts on a wide variety of aspects of intellectual property law: