Over the years, law enforcement, brand protection specialists and private investigators have been instrumental in the fight against IP infringement, but there is something that continues to be severely lacking?
There is no significant holistic educational opportunities into the area of IP protection and investigations for practitioners, to speak of.
In other words, there is almost no protection and investigations educational curriculum (that covers the four pillars of IP: Trademark, Copyright, Patents and Trade Secrets) being offered.
LAW SCHOOL DEAN SPEAKS OUT
A very compelling (related) article titled, “Why the traditional US model of educating tomorrow’s lawyers must change,” was written by Megan Carpenter, the dean of the University of New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce School of Law, that is essentially a wake-up call for IP legal education.
She makes the point that law schools have not recognized the need for IP trained lawyers, as well as the need to train others that are not attorneys. She emphasizes the need for law schools to develop programs for non-JD candidates to learn about IP and meet the needs of the global IP proprietary community.
Law schools should take a page our of the medical community’s playbook, in her opinion, where there is a variety of health care professionals that support doctors and medical facilities. There should similarly be a variety of IP legal specialists that support IP attorneys, prosecutors and the courts, in meeting the needs of IP owners.
Dean Carpenter drives the point home, “Law schools should not resist the expanding market for alternative legal service providers and legal tech; rather, they should lead the charge to provide legal education to people who need it, even if in a different form than such education has taken in the past.”
Although Dean Carpenter does not specifically refer to investigators, in my view, private and law enforcement investigators should be included in that category of specialists that need IP legal education. After all, investigators and brand protection specialists have always been on the front-line of this fight.
WHAT IS THE STATE OF IP PROTECTION AND INVESTIGATIVE EDUCATION?
To my knowledge, there are few, if any, courses offered at the undergraduate level, or, at law enforcement academies, that introduce investigators to IP protection and investigations.
Dean Carpenter makes the following observation, “There should be more undergraduate and community-college programs that provide appropriate [IP] legal training. The University of Arizona College of Law launched the first undergraduate bachelor degree in law in the US in collaboration with the broader university and other schools should do the same.”
I could not agree with her more. It would be so helpful to current and future IP investigators and protection professionals to have access to IP courses at the undergraduate college level, as well as courses that come to be added to the curriculums of law enforcement academies around the world.
In my experience, just about everybody that enters the IP investigations and protection field does so without any prior IP education. You either learn on the job, or, you’re self-taught. And the fight against global IP theft and infringement is too complex to rely on, “On the Job Training.”
Colleges (particularly those with Criminal Justice programs) and law-enforcement academies should embrace this model.
As Dean Carpenter put it, “A global and comparative legal education in intellectual property around the world will help us to better understand these issues and solve them.”
WHAT IP INVESTIGATION AND PROTECTION EDUCATION IS AVAILABLE?
In my opinion, the following two (2) educational programs should be considered by all current and future IP investigations and protection professionals:
- International IP Crime Investigators College (IIPCIC)
- Michigan State University (MSU) Center for Anti Counterfeiting and Product Protection (A-CAPP)
AND WHAT ABOUT LAW SCHOOL FOR SELECTED LAW-ENFORCEMENT AND IP PRIVATE SECTOR CANDIDATES?
Well, here’s what Dean Carpenter has offered at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Law School – Hybrid Program.
She explains that her law school’s hybrid law school curriculum is for working adults who cannot relocate to the school or leave their jobs to attend law school:
“…first ABA –approved specialized hybrid law degree, designed for working professionals in the IP and tech space. The first class students take is intellectual property and while they get all of the bar-tested courses, like property and contracts, the entire degree is designed to prepare attorneys to be the IP leaders of tomorrow.”
And I submit that the UNH Law School Hybrid program is well-suited for qualified law-enforcement officers to attend as well.
Those of us that come from law-enforcement know that our respective departments and agencies have a number of lawyers in various ranks that attended law school while on the job.
Law enforcement agencies have long recognized the value of having law-school trained personnel in the ranks to help navigate the more complex legal issues related to protecting the public and their property.
So, why shouldn’t a qualified law-enforcement officer / agent also take advantage of an IP law school education in order to lead their agencies in the fight against IP crime?
I recognize that agencies such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the FBI certainly have in-service training in focused areas of IP infringement protection and investigations.
But, what I hope I am communicating, is the need to support the holistic development of curriculums to educate the current and future IP investigative and protection leaders of tomorrow.
As Dean Carpenter put it, (in regards to a J.D. education), “Education within the JD needs to change … law firms now need to hire associates who are prepared to hit the ground running.”
Well, I think IP investigations and protection specialists need to hit the ground running too.
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