UNH Law Professors, Alumni Travel to Armenia to Aid IP Development Efforts
U.S. Department of Commerce Among Sponsors of December Trip
In December, University of New Hampshire School of Law Professors Stanley Kowalski and Ashlyn Lembree, along with UNH Law alumnus Vincent Macri LLM ’03, traveled to Armenia to join UNH Law alumnus Sarkis Knyazyan LLM '09 to assist with IP development efforts in the country.
The trip was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) and the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), via funding from the U.S. Department of State, with additional support from the American University of Armenia (AUA) and the Intellectual Property Rights Center (IPRC), an Armenian nonprofit.
“I commend UNH Law’s efforts to enhance commercial capacity in developing countries, in particular the school’s most recent work in Armenia,” said U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, who represents New Hampshire. “Projects like this lay the groundwork for stimulating the global economy for the benefit of the people of Armenia and also for the benefit of U.S. businesses – like many in New Hampshire – that are involved in the international marketplace.”
Professor Kowalski is director of UNH Law’s International Technology Transfer Institute, and Professor Lembree heads the school's Intellectual Property & Transaction Clinic. Macri is an American attorney and inventor/patentee of U.S. and European patents for neurological rehabilitation, and Knyazyan is the founding partner of Knyazyan & Partners IP Law Firm as well as a law professor at two Armenian law schools and chair of IPRC’s board of trustees.
“The trip was focused on education and capacity-building, and also on building bridges between the United States and Armenia,” said Kowalski, himself a UNH Law graduate who has spent considerable time helping to build IP infrastructure in developing countries around the world. “The goal includes moving Armenia towards knowledge-based economic development.”
The UNH Law team spent a week working with Armenian educators and officials, facilitating workshops in the developing nation. The group met with key stakeholders, including Deputy Minister of Economy Garegin Melkonyan and the Deputy Head of the IP Agency Andranik Khachikyan. They also taught at a two-day conference for practitioners and students, focusing on technology transfer, patents, copyright, trademarks, and trade secrets. In an effort to help springboard Armenian know-how to the global stage, the conference, held at the AUA, gave Armenian lawyers and other IP professionals the tools to guide entrepreneurs to protect, commoditize, and commercialize inventions, brands, and works. At the end of the week, the team visited the U.S. Embassy and met with Deputy Chief of Mission Woodward Clark Price.
The educational sessions in Yerevan were well attended, with approximately 150 participants, more than half of who were women.
“I am particularly encouraged by the leadership role of women IP professionals in Armenia,” Kowalski said. “This will foster the formulation of IP public policy that addresses crucial issues in the development of a gender-dynamic, inclusive, and balanced knowledge economy”.
Although its cultural heritage dates back to Biblical times and is rooted in the legendary story of victory by Noah’s descendant Hayk and leadership by Hayk’s descendant Aram (also named Armenak), the current Republic of Armenia has officially been independent only since 1991.
“Before Armenia’s independence, citizens were unable to own exclusive copyrights and trademarks in the Western sense,” said Lembree, who earned her JD and MIP from UNH Law. “When it first emerged from its over 70-year history as a republic in the USSR, Armenia created transition laws to provide a structure for intellectual property protection. Those laws are now undergoing amendments to provide greater amenity and consistency with actual and potential trading partners. Armenia developed a reputation as being the Silicon Valley of the Soviet Union, and its post-Soviet high-tech sector remains strong and in need of internationally consistent laws.”
Stephen Gardner, chief counsel for the U.S. Commerce Department’s CLDP program, said his organization appreciates the contributions that Professors Kowalski and Lembree, along with alumnus Macri, have made toward building IP and technology transfer capacity in Armenia.
“Such dedicated efforts, critical for accelerating knowledge-based development, underscore the shared mission, values, vision, and goals of CLDP and UNH Law,” Gardner said. “This relationship, now in its fifth year since Professor Jon Cavicchi initially forged the connection in 2009, will continue as strategic partnerships and targeted program implementation strengthen important global initiatives for innovation-driven economic development."
A gallery of photos from the trip can be found here.