The smart technology we can’t do without. The words and images that make our imagination soar. The songs we can’t get out of our head. Behind them all are scientists, inventors, artists, or writers who rely on Intellectual Property Law (IP Law) to protect their creations. From patents to trademarks to copyrights, it’s a dynamic area of the law that tries to strike a balance between encouraging innovation and promoting the free exchange of ideas, information, and vigorous competition.
At St. John’s, the study of IP Law is guided by the Intellectual Property Law Center (IPLC), which offers students, faculty, and practitioners a unique forum for research, education, and professional development relating to the legal and policy issues of the knowledge economy.
The IPLC is co-directed by Professor Jeremy Sheff, who teaches and writes in trademark and patent law, and Professor Eva E. Subotnik, whose scholarship and research interests focus on issues of artistic intent that arise in the realm of copyright law and policy. Under the IPLC umbrella, they coordinate a range of courses, co-curricular offerings, programs, and activities that give St. John’s Law students interested in IP Law a well-defined pathway to follow.
The IPLC is also home to the Intellectual Property Honors Program. Selected entering St. John’s Law students who plan to pursue IP practice receive an annual tuition stipend of $10,000 to fund their studies, individualized career development support, and special opportunities to engage in academic endeavors related to their field of interest.
“I’ve always had a keen interest in storytelling, the shift of ideas to tangible commodities, and its relation to intellectual property law and emerging new media,” says John Peter Amato, Jr. '20, one of the Law School’s three new IP Honors Scholars. As an undergraduate at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, he studied television, radio, and film with a dual major in political science. He then worked full-time at the creative advertising agency R/GA. “The agency’s clients included technology startups, and I saw first hand how ideas take shape as life-changing products that uplift society,” Amato says. “It’s clear how critical IP Law is to fostering that kind of creative thinking and innovation.”
Amato’s fellow IP Honors Scholar, Richard M. Hauser '20, also makes the connection between creativity and IP Law. As a consumer, performer, composer, and producer, Hauser’s love of music has taken him from sleepless college nights “sampling songs and arranging them painstakingly into compositions,” to an administrative role with a New York City nonprofit specializing in hip-hop based education for disadvantaged youth, to a renowned private music production school. “Music, reinforced by technology, is a potent force in the world that can be transformative,” he says. “As a creative product, music merits legal protections, and I look forward to learning more about IP Law and the many ways it shapes the music industry.”
Fatih Mercan '21, who completes the trio of IP Honors Scholars in this year’s entering class, is a full-time patent agent who brings a scientist’s perspective to his studies in the Law School’s evening program. Mercan earned a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from Yale and was a postdoctoral associate in cancer research at the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. “While science promotes the greater good of society, legal protection of inventions is important to safeguard the integrity of creativity,” he says. “IP Law is so interesting because it deals with the latest and most exciting science, as well as a highly dynamic and vibrant legal landscape. As I see it, protecting IP rights in an invention is a contribution to the advancement of civilization."
Amato, Hauser, and Mercan are honored to be a part of the IP Honors Program at St. John’s Law. With the special attention they receive from faculty and career development counselors, and with support from the IPLC and the St. John’s Law community, the scholars are already on their way to becoming successful attorneys in the growing field of Intellectual Property Law.
Class of 2018 IP Honors Scholars
- James Duckham
- Cristen C. McGrath
Class of 2019 IP Honors Scholars
- Philip J. Branigan
- Arianna T. Clark
- Antonio J. Guzman Dominguez