Photos by Ella Gonzalez
Students at Pepperdine Law interested in intellectual property law can now join the school’s new Intellectual Property Student Association (IPSA). The association was introduced to the school in the fall by several law students so that those interested in intellectual property law and its related career fields could have the resources to engage with this area more fully.
Vice President of IPSA Jordan Matthews said the field of intellectual property law is particularly apt for individuals living in the Southern California area. He said the area’s diversity and up-and-coming nature make it a dynamic and exciting field.
“It’s a very rapidly changing environment and there’s a lot of law that is unsettled and that is getting decided, so it’s a really interesting and very unique and intense creative place to practice,” Matthews said.
Intellectual property law encompasses several different areas including copyright, trademarks and patents, Matthews said. Copyright in books, motion pictures and scripts are some of the things that fall under the umbrella of intellectual property law. Matthews also said the field deals with trademarks for businesses like the Nike “swoosh” sign and patents on technologies like the iPhone. With these areas of intellectual property law in mind, IPSA hopes to provide networking opportunities for students interested in the field as well as opportunities to attend events dealing with intellectual property law, Matthews said.
President of IPSA Vincent Escoto said that although there are some organizations at the Pepperdine Law School that have some events centered around intellectual property law, he wanted to create a “centralized hub” for students interested in this area to be able to connect with attorneys, judges and students interested in the area. Escoto, who has a computer science background, also said that he hopes that students studying more “technical fields,” like computer science or chemistry, realize they can still practice their technical field in a law setting.
Matthews said although the field of intellectual property law is a “niche area,” it covers a good amount of ground, some of which might resonate in individuals living in Southern California. Careers in entertainment law, sports law, litigation over movie scripts and their originality, and patent prosecution, are some of the career areas of intellectual property law, Matthews said.
At Pepperdine, IPSA hopes to provide students interested in intellectual property law with the opportunity to engage with the industry’s professionals, and allow students the opportunity to develop expertise in this area, and write papers to get published in intellectual property journals. Matthews said that the organization would provide networking tools for students interested in this field.
“It’s really about networking and providing educational experiences and allowing students to direct their specialization and work with professors who have a background in the area academically and professionally and building those relationships,” Matthews said.
Paul Bost, Seaver College class of 2002 and intellectual property lawyer focusing on trademark and copyrights, said his interest in arts and culture made intellectual property law an ideal field. Although he said there was not any club related to this field when he attended Vanderbilt University School of Law, he said that his school did have intellectual property law classes. Bost said that the opportunity for students to connect with lawyers in the field and strengthen their writing by publishing in intellectual property journals will give law students good practical experience.
“The opportunity to be mentored by and have a relationship with someone who practices IP law will give students a good idea of what it means to be an IP lawyer,” Bost said.
Bost also said the more opportunities students get to write for the legal reading public, the more they will enhance their writing skills, which is an integral part of being a lawyer.
Secretary of IPSA, Krystal Saleh, echoed Matthews’ sentiments. She also commented on how she hopes the organization will give students a chance to foster and build relationships with professionals in their area of study.
“We want to have as many opportunities for members to network with those attorneys,” Saleh said. “It’s not just about learning what kind of intellectual property you want to practice, but it’s also about making connections with these attorneys, because in entertainment specifically it’s about who you know, and we want to help people build those relationships.”
In order to build these relationships with attorneys in the entertainment and media realm, Saleh said that IPSA is working on coordinating events with the Palmer Center, a business and entrepreneurship organization at Pepperdine Law, to host an intellectual property panel. She also said they are working on an event with the Sports and Entertainment Law Society to get attorneys from all sections of the California bar to come to campus in November.
Escoto, noting the loftiness of his goals for his organization’s first year on campus, said that in addition to networking events for students, he also hopes to have an invention competition within the undergraduate campus where the winner would get free legal advising and students from the law school would draft a contract and establish licensing. Escoto said that the facet of intellectual property law that interests him most is the inventive process and seeing how inventors and their inventions come to fruition.
Saleh said that the versatility of intellectual property makes it an area of law that is in much demand.
“It permeates boundaries. It’s a practice and area that you can find entertainment [or] science at a litigation firm or company,” Saleh said. “There’s a lot of demand for IP [intellectual property] attorneys because we are so versatile.”
As far as the future of intellectual property law goes, Saleh said that the growing changes in technology provide fertile ground for new developments in the field.
“There’s been a lot of changes in how people receive their entertainment,” Saleh said. “IP protection has to adapt with those changes in receiving media. I think there’s going to be a large need of attorneys who are able to understand those types of media formats and know how to negotiate with foresight to be able to see how the technology is going to continue to change and create agreements to protect new technology in the future.”
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