2017 was an exciting year for Innovation, Business & Law at Iowa! The Center hosted numerous speakers and other programs, with something for almost everyone. This annual newsletter provides a short update on some of our activities. For the latest news on innovation, business & law activities at the Iowa College of Law, check out the Center’s website, https://ibl.law.uiowa.edu. Please drop me a note as well—I’m always interested in hearing from Iowa Law alumni and supporters.

Jason Rantanen
Professor and Ferguson-Carlson Fellow in Law
Director, Innovation, Business & Law Program
University of Iowa College of Law


Visiting Speakers

This fall, the IBL Center hosted a wide array of academics, policy makers and practitioners who spoke on topics relating to the intersection of law, business and technology. The Innovation, Business and Law Speakers Series is supported by the David M. Hellwege, J.D. ’73 Fund.    

In September, Iowa Law graduate and former Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer Cori Zarek sat down with students at the College of Law to chat about the nexus of technology, policy and the law. The “Lunch and Learn” event, hosted by Professor Paul Gowder, gave students an opportunity to hear about Ms. Zarek’s career and ask her about net neutrality policy, protecting open data, and diversity within the tech community.

Also in September, alumnus Steven Baird returned to the Boyd Law Building to present a lecture on “Trademark Registration & Free Speech: An Insider’s View on Challenging Disparaging Trademarks.” Mr. Baird’s lecture centered on his personal involvement in the trademark litigation surrounding the Washington Redskins name and logo. Baird, who is a graduate of both Iowa’s College of Law and College of Pharmacy, is the current Chair of the Intellectual Property and Trademark & Brand Management Groups at Winthrop & Weinstine in Minneapolis.

Rounding out the first month of classes, Corynne McSherry, Legal Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), engaged students with a discussion of the current issues facing free speech, privacy, and transparency, and fostering innovation in the electronic age. McSherry noted the difficulty in ensuring that consumers are able to fully utilize the products they buy rather than being limited by complex licensure agreements governing the use of the product.

In October, visiting professor Christopher Odinet, the Horatio C. Thompson Endowed Assistant Professor of Law at the Southern University Law Center and a former associate at Phelps Dunbar, L.L.P., lectured on the developing trend of using virtual property as collateral. Professor Odinet noted the legal issues that can arise in this area of the law and addressed questions involving social media, such as whether a Twitter account could serve as a form of capital for obtaining commercial credit, as he discussed the benefits and gray areas of this evolving area of law.

The Intellectual Property Law Society (“IPLS”) hosted its annual careers-in-IP panel in October. This year, the three-member panel featured alumni Tracy Deutmeyer and Charlie Damschen alongside Washington, D.C.-based attorney Kelu Sullivan, a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. The panelists come from an array of different backgrounds and firm sizes, but they all shared a common passion for intellectual property law that took shape during their time in law school.

In November, IPLS, the Organization for Women Law Students and Staff, and the Black Law Student Association welcomed Northeastern University School of Law Professor Kara Swanson to the University of Iowa College of Law to share some insights from her upcoming book, Inventing Citizens: Race, Gender, and the Patent System. Professor Swanson explained how two historically marginalized groups—women and African American men—utilized the patent system as a means of working toward social equality. Professor Swanson’s fascinating work brings together two traditionally separate areas—patents and gender and racial equality—in unique and unexpected ways.

Earlier this year, the IBL Center and IPLS welcomed Professor Christopher Beauchamp, Associate Professor at Brooklyn Law School, who gave a talk based on his book, Invented by Law: Alexander Graham Bell and the Patent That Changed America. Professor Beauchamp’s work approaches today’s world of patents from a historical perspective. In April, internationally recognized expert Professor Arti Rai of Duke Law discussed “Proprietary Rights in Genetic Platform Technologies,” in which she explored how the scope of patent rights granted to developers of genetic platform technologies can affect their development and commercialization. Professor Jake Linford of Florida State University concluded the 2016–17 academic year lecture series when he challenged many existing trademark concepts in his presentation on “Consumer Perception and Trademark Law.”

The IBL Center also continued its series of one-day “mini-courses” on select topics taught by practitioners. In March, Phil Goter, J.D. ‘11, an attorney with Fish & Richardson PC, taught a one-day class on inter partes review proceedings (IPRs). The not-for-credit class covered an array of issues relating to IPRs, including procedures, legal issues and strategies. Over a dozen students came in to the Boyd Law Building on a Saturday to learn about this dynamic area of patent law.


IP Advocacy

Last spring, Iowa Law students once again performed quite well in the Giles Sutherland Rich Moot Court Competition. Brianna Chamberlin (’17) and Tyler Latcham (’18) advanced to the national level after winning the Midwest regional competition, continuing the tradition of a team from Iowa Law reaching the national round. Thank you to everyone who helped moot the IP advocacy teams. Being able to argue and receive feedback from practicing attorneys is a critical component of the learning process of IP Advocacy.


New Members of the IBL Center

The College of Law welcomed four new faculty members in the fall, each of whom is contributing to the IBL Center’s mission of helping students better understand emerging legal issues involving business and technology.

Anya Prince (J.D., Georgetown University) formerly of the University of North Carolina Center for Genomics and Society and Indiana University-Indianapolis law school, taught Insurance Law in the fall and will be teaching Genetics and the Law this spring.

Gregory Shill (J.D., Harvard Law School) came to Iowa after his most recent appointment at the Harvard Law Program on Corporate Governance. He teaches Contracts and Business Associations.

Sean Sullivan (Ph.D. & J.D., University of Virginia) worked at the Bureau of Competition at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. before coming to Iowa. He is teaching courses on Evidence and Antitrust Law.

Cristina Tilley (J.D., Northwestern University School of Law) is teaching Torts and Media Law this year after joining Iowa from Loyola University of Chicago law school.

In addition, Sara Clark recently joined the Center as its Administrative Services Coordinator. Ms. Clark will provide expanded support and continuity for the Center’s activities. 



Each year, the IBL Center awards Summer Stipends to students engaging in unpaid externships in IBL-related fields. This year, the IBL Center awarded a stipend to Clayton Soelberg (3L) and Andrea Rastelli (2L). Clayton spent his summer at the UIHC’s General Counsel’s Office, while Andrea completed a for-credit externship with Deere Financial.

In fall 2017, Iowa Law alumnus Lata Setty, the Chief Intellectual Property Officer at UnitedLex, and her son, Deven Ramachandran, established the Dr. Satya & Prema Leela Setty Scholarship Fund to honor Ms. Setty’s parents, Deven’s grandparents, and continue the family’s commitment to education by supporting students interested in intellectual property law. Cara Donels (2L) received the scholarship for the 2017–18 academic year. “I got to meet [Lata and her family] shortly after receiving the scholarship and I was struck by how committed they were to education and to continuing the tradition of education that Dr. Satya and Leela started,” Ms. Donels wrote. “I was so glad I could meet her, and I hope to someday follow in her footsteps.”


Upcoming Innovations, Business & Law Center Programming

The spring 2018 IBL Center speaker series will focus on bringing experts in cutting-edge areas of technology to the Boyd Law Building to talk about and explain their fields. Subjects will include bitcoin and blockchain technology, personalized medicine, and big data. In a departure from the usual practice, these speakers will not be legal experts. Instead, by bringing in subject-matter experts, we hope to give students a sense of what technological experts think about. 

More traditional speakers will include Iowa Law Professor Christina Tilley, speaking on Defamation as Product Liability (co-sponsored with the IPLS) on March 2, and Irina Manta, Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Intellectual Property Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. Professor Manta’s February 19 talk, co-sponsored with the IPLS and Federalist Society, will be on Why IP is Like Property and Property is Not What You Think.

Finally, on Friday, October 5, 2018, the IBL Center will partner with the Iowa Law Review to host a symposium on “Administering Patent Law.” This symposium will bring together leading scholars to discuss the intersection between administrative law and patent law. I’m particularly excited about the symposium given the Supreme Court’s pending decision in Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group, which has the potential for making significant waves in both areas of the law.

Thank You!

Due to the brevity of this letter, I have left off the many of you who have supported the Innovation, Business & Law Center through your contributions of time, counsel and willingness to talk to Iowa Law students. Thank you all!

Best wishes for 2018.