Understanding IP Matters – IP and AI: Lessons for Students, Businesses and Governments

The use of generative and other forms of artificial intelligence is fueling challenging questions about AI’s relationship to IP rights. Businesses, investors, governments, lawyers and students all are learning as they go. What AI means to IP and how it can be regulated should be a part of every educator’s syllabus.

How will students use AI to help them learn? Will the datasets that are being used to train popular AI tools be transparent and accessible? Will these datasets continue to use copyrighted works without compensating copyright owners? If that is the case, copyrights may never be the same, nor trade secrets nor patents, for that matter.

With AI use growing by leaps and bounds, legal and ethical issues are challenging educators on all levels, but especially in law schools. To find out what law school students are learning about IP rights in law schools today and how teaching IP law is being reimagined in the age of generative AI, Bruce Berman hosts two renowned IP leaders in legal education on Episode 8 of Season 3 of his podcast “Understanding IP Matters.”

Megan Carpenter is the Dean of the University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce School of Law. She speaks internationally about entrepreneurship, branding, and the arts. She is known for her innovative approach to teaching intellectual property, including the creation of experiential learning opportunities, joint degree programs, and interdisciplinary programs.

Daryl Lim is the H. Laddie Montague Jr. Chair in Law at Penn State Dickinson Law as well as an affiliate of the Center for Socially Responsible Artificial Intelligence at Penn State University. He is a frequent commentator on IP rights and competition policy.

In different ways, Daryl and Megan underscore the need for law schools — and in particular, their IP programs — to adapt and innovate to remain relevant in the age of AI and online learning. Intellectual property law is never boring, they point out, as new innovative products and services produce new questions for the law to address. They empahisize that AI law and ethics are not for lawyers only, but for most students.

Key Responses

Are the lawyers who don’t focus on IP exposed to intellectual property law? Is it through contracts or are there specific courses for them?

Megan Carpenter: “Like Daryl said, it depends on what law school you attend. At Franklin Pierce, IP is a core focus of our curriculum. So, all of our first year students either choose to take a fundamentals of intellectual property law or a more practical civil-law focused class. That’s not typical among law schools in the United States. Whatever they end up practicing, [our students] have a basic understanding of the main food groups of IP and some emerging issues….

I’ve led IP programs at schools where I was the only intellectual property professor and have also been one of many. When you’re a lone wolf out there, you get a lot of questions from other professors. Increasingly, casebooks are starting to incorporate — whether it’s in property or criminal law or tax — cases that center around IP issues.

So you’ll get those inquiries: Will you come and guest lecture in our class? Or, how should I approach this particular issue? Over time, I’ve seen more and more doctrinal areas incorporate IP as part of their essential structure.” 

Daryl Lim: “Penn State Dickinson Law is not focused on IP specifically, but it’s very active in the AI space. When I was hired, that was one of my charges: Please come and help us develop the connection with AI. Because AI lends itself to interdisciplinary education, it’s not just the law students who are now thinking about technology and IP. It’s the non-law students.

There’s a huge market. We need to approach the education of IP more broadly than we have in the past. You’ve seen this almost revolution in the last five years. There are online opportunities we didn’t think about before the pandemic…

So [the question becomes] how do you link IP to civil procedure? How do you link IP to contracts? How do you link IP to management theory? How do you link IP to engineering? It becomes more about learning how to adapt what you have to continue to make it relevant. I think that’s really an under-appreciated or overlooked area in legal education.

Those who can tap onto this opportunity will be ahead in the game. Forget about U.S. news rankings and forget about traditional advantages: This is a new economy where the people who can offer the goods will get ahead.”

Megan Carpenter: “There is huge opportunity is in the undergraduate space. It’s absurd to me that in a typical undergraduate education, you have to take a certain number of science classes and liberal arts classes to get your program of education.

But in general, there is no requirement in most universities that you need to take a class focused on the legal frameworks within which you live your life every single day!

Law schools have been, somewhat to our own fault, somewhat isolationist. We have not looked at legal education in a broad sense. There is a need not just for what you’re talking about in the context of professional graduate legal education, but also in undergraduate education and increasingly public high school education.”

An increasing number of law school professors are not that fond of strong IP rights. They may believe that patents are overreaching and software is unpatentable. To what do you attribute this perspective to and do you believe it’s of consequence to the future of IP rights? 

Daryl Lim: “It is trendy to bash IP in law schools. There’s something about it that resonated more strongly with the Napster generation, when it was a difficult or expensive to access music and movies. The idea that you’re almost having this civil disobedience by accessing pirated material seemed to resonate with students and the faculty….

I think that has shifted in some ways in the copyright space. It’s more towards the center now. What I’m very concerned about is the patent space. I was just having a conversation with Suzanne Harrison, who served as a chair of PPAC, in which she shared her concern about whether or not patents will continue to be seen as legitimate and relevant, not in the next 10 years, in a few coming years. I was surprised to hear that….

I think there’s something to be said about stakeholders really looking at the system and seeing why has it lost its legitimacy…. Are we missing something? Are the judges missing something? Are the government officials missing something? Are the law professors missing something? What kind of behavior are we rewarding?

How are we going about the messaging? There’s a lot of deep thinking that needs to be done.”

More Highlights

Listen to the entire episode to hear about the benefits of becoming an IP attorney, how AI is being used in law school classrooms, and how they can be used in others.



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Join the Discussion

One comment so far. Add my comment.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    March 7, 2024 03:35 pm

    I quite chuckled at this:

    “An increasing number of law school professors are not that fond of strong IP rights. They may believe that patents are overreaching and software is unpatentable.”

    Sadly – and I have pushed for critical changes to be made, law school professors have NO ethical constraints as to how they inject their views into their teachings.

    While attorneys – and rightfully so – must operate under a code of ethics that can see them lose their license for malfeasance, Professors that directly shape the minds of future attorneys have NO compunction or even an equal set of restraints for ethical behavior.

    They should have even more stringent constraints.

    In addition to shaping the minds of students, they also act directly in attempts to influence the law (one path being through Amicus Briefs).

    This can easily explain a rampant bias in attorneys.

    In a recent study, on hot button issues, it was found that 95% of attorneys lean to far left proclivities.

    As far as the impact to IP attorneys, well, we have two things going for us that help to push back against such bias.

    First, most IP Attorneys (and this explicitly excludes litigators who may fancy themselves as IP attorneys, but do not actually practice patent law as evidenced by having a USPTO registration number) are more mature in law school, having obtained a technical degree and often years of real world experience.

    Second, that maturity provides the ability to simply challenge negatives from professors as they teach the intellectual property basics, while also seeing that innovation protection is necessarily a good thing – and that includes innovation across its broadest possible spectrum, with computing (software) being part and parcel of so many applications.

    That being said, I truly shudder at the word “stakeholders” – as that has been the path by which Trojan Horses have routinely been inserted into legislation.

    The problem with that word is that is “inclusive” of the very people who detest strong innovation protection laws in the first place. Such should have exactly zero “say” and their “buy-in” is simply not necessary at all.

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