Intellectual Property Aspects of Entrepreneurship: Protection in Patent and Trademark Areas, as Well as Copyright and Know-How Areas (Local and Foreign); Penetration of Overseas Markets (Directly or through Licensing); Possible Industrial Espionage Concerns

Article excerpt


Raymond Ku

DR. KING: Okay. We are ready. Let's go.

PROFESSOR KU: Welcome back, everyone. I am Raymond Ku. I teach Copyright and Constitutional law here at Case Western. I am also co-director for the Center for Law Technology and the Arts, which is why Henry asked me to chair our panel here on intellectual property aspects of entrepreneurship. I won't give you the boring summary of what the criteria for copyright, trademark, and patent law is. I will just tell you that, obviously, from the perspective of entrepreneurs, intellectual property is often viewed as having the attributes of a double-edged sword.

I think it is billed as a friend in the sense that it provides, often, the necessary incentive and the legal protection for entrepreneurs to actually make the investments that they do and engage in the business activities that they do. But it can also be an incredible barrier to entry. Just look at any newspaper today. The right over patent law, copyright or trademark as intellectual property has expanded beyond the more traditional common law origins into, maybe, the respective regulatory regime. It can be quite difficult for entrepreneurs to navigate the regulatory waters.

We are fortunate to have our two distinguished panelists here with us today. They, unlike myself, come on the harder side of intellectual property. They are both attorneys and patent law experts. James Longwell, directly to my left, is partner at Gowling Lafleur Henderson in Canada where he specializes in information technology law, especially in the patent aspects of that field. Further to my left is Diane Dobrea, a partner at Calfee, Halter & Griswold in Columbus, Ohio. She, again, is, as I said, a patent attorney whose primary focus is biotechnology law. And one brief note about Diane, she is also a graduate of Case Western Reserve University and an adjunct professor in our Center for Law Technology and the Arts.

Now we are going to adopt the format used by the venture capitalist panel earlier, and we will kind of leave it as a free form discussion both among the panelists and you in the audience.


Diane H. Dobrea *



James Longwell **

MS. DOBREA: Okay. Well, I will pop in first and say thank you, thank you, Professor King, for inviting me here. I am actually a three-time alumnus of this university: undergrad, grad in biochemistry, and law.

DR. KING: Can you all hear Diane?

MS. DOBREA: It is just always a pleasure to come back to the University. Although I relocated a year ago down to Columbus with our law firm, I find my way up here a lot, so I am used to seeing the faces around here on the campus.

We are trying to be responsive to the sentiments and questions that have been raised over the last couple of days in terms of how IP factors into the entrepreneurial context. And I say entrepreneurial context because there have been a lot of conversations about entrepreneurs and individuals or a small team starting up and taking an innovation out into the marketplace. But from the standpoint of an IP attorney, we deal with entrepreneurs whether they are a business unit within an existing company that is trying to go after a new opportunity or an individual who has a concept and wants to figure out how the solution that he or she has found can also make it out in the marketplace to help other people be successful and maybe make some money, too.

That is the backdrop of how we deal with intellectual property. What we want to talk about today is the role of intellectual property in the entrepreneurial context in terms of making decisions about when to spend the money, when to spend the time to figure out what kind of real estate you have got to protect, and whether or not you are stepping on someone else's real estate--which is an important consideration that can't be overlooked. …