MAs part of a continuing series on Fall 2019 semester courses that relate to innovation and business law, this post spotlights Intellectual Property Advocacy

Ask anyone involved with the Intellectual Property (IP) Advocacy program and the same two words usually appear in the answer: intense and demanding. In that same breath, respondents are also just as likely to describe IP Advocacy as one of the highlights of their law school career. 

A yearlong course, IP Advocacy is organized around a regional moot court competition in the spring semester. Top performers advance to a national competition, held a few weeks later. In the fall, students research and draft appellate briefs. Then students follow a rigorous schedule of practice arguments – usually eight to ten sessions before panels of area lawyers and judges with IP experience. “The students get lots of great feedback and then make adjustments. Plus, students have a chance to meet people actually doing this type of work,” said Professor Christina Bohannan, who supervises the program.

The law school typically fields a handful of two- to four-member teams. Teams choose to argue patent, trademark, copyright, or corporate law questions. “It’s a fun class to teach because it’s not a doctrinal class, where I stand at the front and lecture. I teach problem-solving skills: how to analyze a fact pattern, develop a strategy, and craft a good argument. It’s hard work, but these are the skills that students will need when they graduate,” added Bohannan.

The time and energy has paid off for recent Iowa IP advocates. At least one of the school’s teams has advanced to the national competition in each of the last four years, with the Patent Moot Court team winning the Midwest regional competition for the past two years and the national championship in 2014. IP Advocacy is open to 2Ls and 3Ls. Students interested in the course submit an application to Bohannan during the fall registration period.

Course Description

This class integrates the teaching of substantive intellectual property law with the development of both oral and written advocacy skills in the IP field. It is an advanced and intensive course designed to build on earlier learning in order to prepare students for the practice of law. The class has traditionally been organized around preparing students to compete in one of several intellectual property moot court competitions: the Saul Lefkowitz Trademark Law competition, the Giles Sutherland Rich Patent Law competition, and the BMI/Cardozo Copyright and Entertainment Law competition. For each competition, team members for that competition will draft and re-draft sections of their briefs. The teams will also engage in numerous practice oral argument sessions, including sessions that will be judged by practicing intellectual property lawyers and will also bench practice sessions for the other teams. Finally, the teams will participate in their respective moot court competitions, which will likely be held in Chicago, New York or Washington, DC. It is contemplated that all students who register for this seminar will compete in one of the competitions, but if a competition cannot accommodate all of our teams, internal competitions will be held to determine who the members of the competition team(s) will be. This seminar is a demanding and time-consuming course. Strong commitment and performance are expected, as our teams consistently win or place at their respective competitions. Students should request to take this course only if they are willing to devote substantial time and energy to learning substantive law and developing their advocacy skills, but the hard work will be rewarded.


Schedule Information