IP in the Public Interest
Nearly 40 years of training IP professionals to serve the public
Intellectual property in the public interest is increasingly a global concern. Among law schools, the University of New Hampshire School of Law and its Franklin Pierce Center for IP have been uniquely positioned to make significant contributions to this rapidly emerging field. The potential ramifications of such efforts are considerable, as intellectual property capacity fosters invention and drives innovation, raises standards of living and promotes international economic development.
Building intellectual property capacity in developing countries, via educational and outreach programs, can advance social justice by facilitating equitable access to essential innovations in pharmaceuticals, vaccines and agricultural biotechnologies. This will then promote the global public interest by improving basic health and nutrition, especially among the poor of developing countries, disproportionately represented by women and children.
According to Professor Ellen Musinsky, the Franklin Pierce Center for IP has long been a leader in both practice and policy based intellectual property legal education that promotes the global public interest and serves humanitarian objectives. This has been accomplished by building intellectual property capacity that advances the public interest in a wide range of endeavors, ranging from traditional transactional IP clinics to assist inventors and artists to assisting in matters of economic development, public health, agriculture, environmental protection, technology transfer and software and technology licensing.
Although the Franklin Pierce Center for IP has always advocated the value of global intellectual property, whether used in the public or private interest, it is important to note that Franklin Pierce Center for IP graduates decide how to apply their skills in intellectual property law and management. As Professor Thomas G. Field Jr. observes, “Whether you call it public interest, social justice or even poverty law, it's subject matter neutral. Non-profits, for example, have the same trademark and potential copyright issues as anyone. Moreover, they seem to appreciate that when patents are available they foster the aims of the enterprise."
Among the many ways that UNH Law promotes IP in the public interest are:
- 40 years of clinical service to inventors, authors and artists
- The only law school in the world with an Institute that helps build tech transfer offices
- The only law school in the world producing sophisticated Patent Landscape Educational Report Series on biotechnology issues affecting global health and agriculture challenges
- Players in important public policy decision making submitting friend of the court briefs
- Leaders in public interest work in agriculture, biotechnology, traditional knowledge, health care and the environment
- A Social Justice Institute that integrates IP issues into its work
A public interest school from the beginning
The Franklin Pierce Law Center cofounders, Dr. Robert Rines and Robert M. Viles, were committed to building a law school that trained lawyers of all types who would use the law to promote law and social justice in the global public interest. For Rines this vision was global; educating professionals from developing nations in intellectual property would create a cascade of positive outcomes, providing intellectual property professionals with an enhanced ability to evaluate options and thereby make informed decisions, which would then:
- Foster economic development
- Advance public health and nutrition
- Promote the public interest
- Build social justice
From a historical perspective, UNH Law has been an innovative leader in intellectual property education in the public interest:
- Practice based transactional clinics serving inventors and artists.
- Educating thousands with highly acclaimed print and web booklets by Professor Tom Field on the fundamentals of intellectual property including the lead article, entitled Focus on Intellectual Property, released by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Information Program.
- Inviting influential decision-makers from developing nations' governments, industry and nongovernmental institutions to attend classes and programs on the types, structure and role of intellectual property.
- IP Faculty assisting developing nations by participating at other institutions, including Professor Homer Blair, who trained representatives from developing countries at the United Nations.
- The Academy of Applied Science, a private nonprofit, tax-exempt organization chartered by Robert Rines, promotes creativity, invention and scientific achievement. The Academy of Applied Science counts thousands of individuals in its volunteer networks across America and throughout the world. Also, the Academy works closely with a number of organizations, institutions, and corporations.
In 1986, Franklin Pierce Law Center initiated the Master of Intellectual Property Program, the first of its kind in the United States to train intellectual property professionals, administrators, lawyers, engineers and entrepreneurs from developing nations, an interdisciplinary program designed to provide substantive knowledge and practical skills, fostering technology transfer, innovation and increased economic development.