Inside Law Admissions: Why Study Intellectual Property?


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Micky Minhas

Micky Minhas, JD/LLM '97, Executive Director of the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property, breaks down the importance of the IP field and his vision for the future of the center. Produced and Hosted by A. J. Kierstead

Learn more about the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property at https://law.unh.edu/ip 

Get an email when the latest episode releases and ever miss an episode by subscribing on Apple PodcastGoogle PlayStitcher, and Spotify!

UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law is now accepting applications for JD, Graduate Programs, and Online Professional Certificates at https://law.unh.edu 

Legal topics include patents, trademarks, copyright, invention, intellectual property, engineering, STEM

Read the Transcript

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property executive director and alum from the class of 1997, Micky Minhas, joins the show to discuss the importance of intellectual property programs and opportunities for students after graduation. This is Inside Law Admissions, a special series of the podcast, The Legal Impact, presented by UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law, now accepting applications for JD graduate programs and online professional certificates. Learn more and apply at law.unh.edu.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

So Micky, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm really fascinated to get into the future of IP at the law school and the breadth of what IP is in general in the industry. What is intellectual property, if you had to tell it to someone who isn't familiar?

Micky Minhas:

It's actually a really interesting question, and namely because I think the term, intellectual property, has broadened over time. When I first describe it to people, you just usually start with patents and trademarks and copyrights. People generally understand what those things are, but over time, it has really, really broadened. Trade secrets is an integral part of intellectual property. Antitrust is integral to intellectual property, and now I would see data and privacy are integral to intellectual property as well. So I think IP covers all of those things.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

It seems like it'd be really important to large corporations, small corporations, designers. There's many aspects where the intellectual property basically keeps our industry going.

Micky Minhas:

Yeah, absolutely. Really, it's at the intersection of all of those six areas that I mentioned that companies are having to deal with every day. Just last month, I was speaking with the general counsel at TikTok, who describes internally to his clients, his internal clients, that privacy is the intellectual property right associated with data, and how important it is. So it is something that we see on the daily in the headlines of the newspapers. There's always some IP issue that bubbles to the top every day.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Of late, especially with China, it's been big when it comes to international relations, even from a government perspective.

Micky Minhas:

Very much so. Just today, the Trump administration announced increased sanctions on Huawei namely because of the perceived threat of intellectual property that's occurred before. TikTok may be banned from the United States, again, from how the data is being used and are they ... is the data of us citizens being kept private or shared with the government? These are issues that not a day goes by without something bubbling up.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Now, when it comes to the law student, why should a law student consider going into the specialty?

Micky Minhas:

Yeah, I think a couple of different reasons. One, it's an area that is evolving really, really fast. As I was saying when describing intellectual property, the areas of patents and trademarks and trade secrets and copyrights, those have been around for a long time. But the areas around antitrust and around data and its privacy are evolving and they're really changing. Just last month, we saw that a number of tech leaders having to testify in front of Congress as Amazon and Apple and Facebook among others and Google are being questioned as to whether or not they're violating anti-trust. Not because they're dominating positions in their marketplace in the same way, but is the use of data too aggregated? So I think it's a super interesting time now to be in these fields because I think we're seeing an evolution in the law at the same time.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Before we dive into what the IP law student experience might be and what sort of programs they might be interested in going into, UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law has an industry leading intellectual property program. What is the history of that program?

Micky Minhas:

As you know, I went to school here and back in the mid nineties. In that time, there were a number of leading professors here at the time that were very well integrated with industry, as well as with academics. I think that's one of the hallmarks of UNH Franklin Pierce, is always keeping a pulse on both of those things. So like what I think I bring to the table is bringing a lot of the corporate aspects and in terms of companies and how they're using its intellectual property today. We integrate leaders of IP and leaders of the legal field from these companies, and they discuss their real time issues, as well as staying on the top end of the academic side and what are the thought leaders doing in some of these evolving areas of technology and what the law should be.

Micky Minhas:

Now, what does the curriculum or types of programs look like for students that are interested in pursuing this field here at Franklin Pierce?

Micky Minhas:

One can imagine there's the regular JD programs, as well as LLM programs, and truly a focus on intellectual property if the student chooses to do so. Really a wide range of classes that students can take to get into some highly specialized courses. As an example, this past summer, we had courses on video gaming and intellectual property or image use and likeness of, and those areas of copyright. We had trademark searching, cannabis and IP, a number of these areas. So it can be as general or as specialized as you'd like it to be, namely because we do have either experts resident here or experts that we bring in to talk about those various facets of IP.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Or alumni like you who we drag back.

Micky Minhas:

I love the way [crosstalk 00:05:43]. Exactly.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Just very briefly, if you could talk about the hybrid program which specializes in this end of the industry, how early do law students get a chance to start interacting with intellectual property programming?

Micky Minhas:

Good question. The answer is right away. The hybrid program, in particular, is geared towards intellectual property students, so there's an eagerness to associate and to get into that. That being said, there's a lot of basic elements of the law that one has to learn first, but the property courses are taught right away. There's the fundamentals of IP course that's taught right away. That provides a lot of the fundamental basis for a lot of the classes that they have in the future, which will include the patents and copyrights and trademarks and trade secrets and so on.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

What do you see as the future for IP here at the law school and in general as an industry?

Micky Minhas:

Oh, I think it's getting broader and deeper at the same time. It is, as I was saying earlier, it's just a really exciting time to be in this area. Things are changing every day. So the law school is staying on top of it, particularly with the changes that we're seeing in how companies are dealing with this. We're bringing in leaders from these companies to talk about those issues. I mentioned TikTok earlier. We've brought Spotify in the classes. We've brought 3M into classes and dealing with N95 masks, touching on the very timely issues that companies are dealing with right now.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Is there anything else on the IP program you wanted to touch upon, or the field in general?

Micky Minhas:

I think the thing I would suggest is that there are general and specialized paths in these areas. It depends on the area of interests that the student might have. I think the role of a law school here is to provide the basis of that knowledge and providing that broad base in a number of areas. Then after that, it's really about where the student wants to make an impact in the world.

A. J. Kierstead (Host):

Thanks for listening to Inside Law Admissions, presented by UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law. Learn more about our intellectual property programs and more at law.unh.edu. Be sure to subscribe to The Legal Impact on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify