It’s one of many questions that scholars will explore during the fifth annual Patent Conference on April 10-11 at the University of Kansas School of Law. Patent scholars from nearly a dozen countries and four continents – in law, economics, management science and other disciplines – will share the latest research on patent law, policy and business. The program is free, and registration is not required.
Plenary speakers include Colleen Chien, Santa Clara law professor and former senior adviser to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Eric von Hippel, economist and professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management; and A. Christal Sheppard, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office satellite branch in Detroit.
“One of the most exciting aspects of PatCon is the opportunity not only to share bleeding-edge patent research but also to hear the debates this research spurs among the leading patent experts who attend,” said Andrew Torrance, professor of law and co-founder of the conference. “For example, one of the hottest topics in patent law today involves so-called ‘patent trolls’ and how they either promote or harm innovation. In fact, many of the scholars at PatCon have signed one of two competing letters sent to Congress just two weeks ago raising serious concerns about trolls.”
Other topics will include the role that patents play in inequality, international patent issues, patent policy, how to value complicated property rights like patents, whether patents promote or crush innovation, and exploding interest in design patents.
“Another exciting phenomenon is the rise of ‘big patent data,’ which scholars are increasingly using to answer fundamental questions about the patent system and even to challenge long-accepted legal doctrines,” Torrance said. “Some of the leading ‘big patent data’ experts will be presenting their latest, often surprising, results at PatCon.”
The School of Law hosted the inaugural Patent Conference in April 2011. Affectionately known as PatCon, the conference has snowballed into the country’s leading annual patent scholarship conference. It rotates among the law schools of its founding professors: Torrance; David Olson, Boston College Law School; David Schwartz, Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Ted Sichelman, University of San Diego School of Law.
The program is co-sponsored by the KU School of Law, Hovey Williams LLP and Lathrop & Gage LLP.
LAWRENCE — The development of a new “open language,” or standard means for communicating data and results between researchers, to guide collaboration in the cutting-edge science of synthetic biology shows valuable potential. But it must take intellectual property issues into account at the outset to avoid legal problems that can be destructive to the process of standards setting, a University of Kansas law professor argues.
Andrew Torrance, also a visiting scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, co-authored a commentary in the leading journal Nature Biotechnology, arguing that if intellectual property concerns are not included in the development of a Synthetic Biology Open Language, or “SBOL,” scientific progress could be thwarted and wasteful legal battles ensue. The commentary was written as a response to an SBOL proposal written by Galdzicki et al., previously published in Nature Biotechnology. Torrance co-authored the commentary with professors Jorge L. Contreras of the University of Utah and Arti K. Rai of Duke University. All three specialize in law, biology, intellectual property and technical standards setting.
The Synthetic Biology Open Language is a set of technical standards intended to serve as a common language to allow diverse research groups to collaborate in the field of synthetic biology without need for technical translation. The language would be part of standards “accelerating scientific progress in synthetic biology and for the eventual commercialization of resulting technologies,” Torrance and co-authors wrote. However, patent and other intellectual property issues highly relevant to the adoption of SBOL were not mentioned and should be considered.
“Standardization and the standards setting process has greatly benefited other fields of scientific endeavor, such as engineering and computer science, and is similarly important to synthetic biology,” Torrance said. “Just as standard worldwide language for air traffic control has enhanced both efficiency and safety, thus spurring air travel, standard language for information exchange should lead progress in synthetic biology to be faster and more meaningful. However, the biological research landscape is replete with patent rights, so standard setting must grapple about intellectual property at the outset.”
Torrance and colleagues recommend including patent holders and legal experts in ongoing negotiations to develop standards such as the Synthetic Biology Open Language. Failing to do so could result in patent holders filing lawsuits, either immediately or once the standard has been adopted, thereby slowing, frustrating or thwarting scientific progress. Such dangers could also drive up the cost of innovation. Failing to consider legal issues has “bedeviled standard developers over the past two decades in industries ranging from wireless networks telecommunications to computer networking to semiconductor memory,” the authors wrote.
Designing standards without considering legal implications would be like designing a top-of-the-line automobile without ensuring there will be a road system on which to drive it, Torrance said. Not only would the vehicle be unable to show off its power and speed, it would almost certainly hit damaging potholes before it got anywhere.
One of the guiding philosophies in the field of synthetic biology is to be open and to share progress with all who are interested. The authors salute and support the “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” ethos this reflects, but they urge those trying to set technical standards not to overlook intellectual property issues with the potential to derail progress in service of that ideal.
“In general, I think the synthetic biology community has shown impressive awareness of potential legal hazards,” Torrance said. “Our letter was a way of reminding the synthetic biology community that issues of law, especially patents, are of vital importance and impossible to ignore. We urge such issues to be considered as an integral part of the standards-setting process so that technical standards are free from legal impediments from their initial adoption. Synthetic biology promises to be one of the great beneficial technologies, generating powerful medicines, more efficient and cleaner industrial processes, and perhaps even self-repairing consumer goods. We want to help ensure that legal impediments to achieving such worthy goals are avoided.”
LAWRENCE – Leading scholars in international, immigration and human rights law will explore the legal complexities surrounding human migration at the 2014 Kansas Law Review Symposium.
“Statelessness and Belonging: Perspectives on Human Migration” will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, at the University of Kansas School of Law. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register and preview the complete schedule at law.ku.edu/stateless.
Speakers from across the country will discuss topics such as: refugee and asylum adjudication; ethics and values in the U.S. immigration system; citizenship and global public health crises, including Ebola; children awaiting adjudication at the U.S. border; human rights and allocation of vital resources to indigenous peoples; home state’s sovereignty over undocumented immigrants abroad; and individuals, corporations and the properties of citizenship.
“There are an estimated 4,000 ‘citizens of nowhere’ in the United States today. A much higher number of people possess a formal nationality but live a similar experience to that of stateless persons: discrimination, loss of legal rights and lack of access to basic resources. Their marginalization touches many of the human rights crises of our time, domestically and internationally,” said Tamara Combs, symposium editor and third-year KU law student. “This is a broad and timely issue to explore as the nation continues to talk about possible reforms to the current immigration system.”
Speakers will include:
- Lillian Aponte-Miranda, human rights lawyer and former associate professor, Florida International University College of Law
- Maryellen Fullerton, professor of law, Brooklyn Law School
- Bill O. Hing, professor and Dean's Circle Scholar, University of San Francisco School of Law
- Polly Price, professor of law, Emory University School of Law
- Jaya Ramji-Nogales, professor of law and co-director, Institute for International Law and Public Policy, Temple University Beasley School of Law
- Marcia Yablon-Zug, associate professor of law, University of South Carolina School of Law
- Lua Yuille, associate professor of law, University of Kansas School of Law
Scholarship associated with the symposium will be published in a spring 2015 issue of the Kansas Law Review. Questions? Contact Symposium Editor Tamara Combs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vantage gives students who have established residency in one of 11 Missouri counties the chance to pursue a KU law degree at an in-state tuition rate. Students entering the KU law school in the summer or fall of 2014 from the following 11 counties are eligible: Bates, Buchanan, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Henry, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Platte and Ray.
“We already know that Kansas City’s prospective law students consider the University of Kansas for its great reputation, accessible faculty, small class sizes and hands-on learning opportunities,” said Stephen Mazza, dean and professor of law. “Now they can also add affordability to the list. We hope the Vantage Scholarship makes it even easier for talented students to choose KU Law.”
First-year law students with Kansas residency currently pay $19,623.35 per year in tuition and fees for 29 hours, while nonresidents pay $33,067.75.
The Vantage program is not a tuition waiver, noted Steven Freedman, assistant dean for admissions at the law school. Qualifying students receive a renewable scholarship from the law school that covers the difference between resident and nonresident tuition.
“We’ve always considered ourselves Kansas City’s leading law school,” Freedman said. “Now with the Vantage Scholarship, we feel we can recruit just as well on both sides of the border.”
Interested students are encouraged to apply by the Feb. 15 scholarship priority deadline.
LAWRENCE — In 1999, former Kansas First Lady Meredith Docking made a commitment of $1 million to establish the Docking Young Faculty Scholar Award. In 2013, ten exceptional faculty members at the University of Kansas have been honored as the latest recipients.
“Mrs. Docking established this generous award to honor faculty who have distinguished themselves early in their careers at KU,” said Jeff Vitter, provost and executive vice chancellor. “Our strategic plan, Bold Aspirations, has guided our efforts to bring many talented, young faculty to Lawrence in recent years across all of our schools and the College. These awards enable us to recognize and retain outstanding individuals, even in a challenging economic environment.”
Individuals selected as Docking Faculty Scholars receive an annual stipend over the duration of their award, either three or five years. The award may be renewed for a second term. Faculty selected in 2013:
- Shawn Alexander, associate professor of African & African American studies
- Christopher Depcik, associate professor of mechanical engineering
- Dale Dorsey, associate professor of philosophy
- William Elliott, associate professor of social welfare
- Tamara Falicov, chair and associate professor of film and media studies
- Trent Herda, assistant professor of health, sport & exercise science
- Virginia Harper Ho, associate professor of law
- Wonpil Im, associate professor of molecular biology
- Ebenezer Obadare, associate professor of sociology
- Hyunjin Seo, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications.
“I know that each of these ten faculty will honor the spirit behind Mrs. Docking’s gift — to strengthen exceptional teachers and scholars at KU,” said Vitter.
The Docking Young Faculty Scholar Award was established by Meredith Docking to reward, encourage and retain younger faculty members who have clearly distinguished themselves early in their careers at KU. Assistant and associate professors who have distinguished themselves through exceptional research and teaching are eligible for these awards. The 10 new scholars were selected for the great potential their dean, chair and colleagues recognized in their nominations.
Past recipients include Monica Biernat, professor of psychology, Rick Dobrowsky, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, Judy Wu, distinguished professor of physics and astronomy, and Andrew Torrance, professor of law.
Biographical information on the Docking family:
Meredith Docking graduated from KU with a business degree in 1947. She was a member of Chi Omega Sorority at KU, where she met her future husband, Robert Docking, a 1948 KU graduate. He was elected to the first of four consecutive two-year terms as Kansas governor in 1966. As first lady, Meredith Docking held honorary positions on many boards and traveled throughout the state to meet with citizens and support her husband's campaigns. A longtime supporter of KU, Meredith Docking was a member of the KU Alumni Association and the Outlook Society, which honors donors of $500,000 or more through the Chancellors Club, KU Endowment's major-donor organization. Meredith Docking died in October 2004.
William R. Docking graduated from KU in 1973 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science and in 1977 with a master's degree in business and a law degree. He is married to Judy Docking, and he has a grown daughter, Mary Ruth Docking. He is chair of The Union State Bank in Arkansas City, and of City National Bank and Trust of Guyman, Okla. He is a member of the KU Endowment Board of Trustees and a member of the Executive Committee. Bill is past chair of the Kansas Board of Regents. He has received KU’s Ellsworth Medallion and was named a distinguished alumnus of the KU School of Business. Earlier this year, he completed 10 years of service on the Board of the Kansas Health Foundation, including three years as chair. At KU, he and Judy have established an endowed professorship in the School of Business and an endowed scholarship for students in the School of Law.
Thomas R. Docking graduated from KU in 1976 with a bachelor of arts degree in economics and political science, and in 1980 with a law degree and an MBA. He is married to Jill Docking, and they have two grown children, Margery Meredith Docking and Brian T. Docking, both of whom graduated from KU. Both have been active in politics. Thomas served as lieutenant governor of Kansas from 1983 to 1987. He is a partner in the Wichita law firm of Morris Laing Evans Brock & Kennedy, and he serves on the board of two commercial banks. He is a member of the steering committee of Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, and he is a co-chair of the campaign. He and Jill have provided support for areas across KU, including the Docking Family Gateway.
Biographical information on the 2013 Docking Young Faculty Scholars:
Shawn Alexander, associate professor of African & African American studies, joined KU in 2007 after receiving his doctoral degree from the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts and two years as the first Cassius Marcellus Clay Fellow at Yale University. For the past five years he has served as director of the Langston Hughes Center at KU, building the research and education center into a recognizable part of the KU and regional community. He specializes in African-American history from the Reconstruction to the present.
Christopher Depcik, associate professor of mechanical engineering, joined KU in 2008 after receiving his doctoral degree and completing a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Michigan. He started the EcoHawks program, which recently dedicated its new home, the Hill Engineering Research and Development Center. His work has been honored with a Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence and a Sustainability Leadership Award from KU, as well as the Society of Automotive Engineers Ralph R. Teetor Award. His research is focused on alternative and renewable fuels for internal combustion engines.
Dale Dorsey, associate professor of philosophy, joined KU in 2008 after earning his doctoral degree from the University of California, San Diego. He spent the 2012-13 academic year on a prestigious fellowship for philosophers whose work benefits public policy at the Murphy Institute Center for Ethics and Public Affairs at Tulane University. His area of focus as a scholar is the philosophical study of well-being, and his collection of published work has led to recognition as a top young ethicist.
William Elliott, associate professor of social welfare, joined KU in 2011 after earning his doctoral degree from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis and three years on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the founding director of the Assets and Education Initiative, which builds on his research on the possibilities assets hold in improving children’s educational outcomes and has provided unique opportunities for graduate students in social welfare. This academic year he has attracted a number of nationally recognized individuals to KU for a four-part speaker series on the discussion, research, and politics around poverty in America.
Tamara Falicov, chair and associate professor of film and media studies, joined KU in 1998 after earning her doctoral degree at the University of California, San Diego. Her specialty is Latin American Cinema, in particular the historical and political issues surrounding the development of film industries in Argentina. Her 2007 book, “The Cinematic Tango: Contemporary Argentine Film,” won a 2008 CHOICE Award, and she is nearing publication of two new books based on her current focus on film financing. She has also been committed to bringing Latin American film to the local community, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Rio Theatre, and venues in Lawrence and Topeka.
Trent Herda, assistant professor of health, sport & exercise science, joined KU in 2011 after earning his doctoral degree at the University of Oklahoma. He serves as the director of the Neuromechanics Laboratory, where he has been active in inviting and incorporating undergraduate students in the variety of research projects under way. In his young career, he has authored or co-authored 50 works in top-level journals and, according to Google Scholar, has been cited more than 500 times since 2008. His research focus is the study of how the nervous system and muscular system collectively respond and adapt to exercise.
Virginia Harper Ho, associate professor of law, joined KU in 2010. She earned her juris doctorate from Harvard Law School and was previously a visiting assistant professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. She was recently awarded the Immel Teaching Award by KU Law for “innovative, rigorous and effective teaching.” She currently serves on an American Bar Association task force on the role of corporate boards in sustainability and in a leadership role with the American Society of Comparative Law. She integrates research on mainland China with research on U.S. corporate governance reforms.
Wonpil Im, associate professor of molecular biology, joined KU in 2005 with a joint appointment in the Center for Bioinformatics after earning his doctoral degree from Cornell University and serving as an NSF Center for Theoretical Biological Physics Fellow at The Scripps Research Institute. He is a recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and the American Chemical Society Hewlett-Packard Outstanding Junior Faculty Award. In 2011, he was awarded the J. Michael Young Academic Advisor Award by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences for his exemplary advising of undergraduate students. His research is focused on applications of theoretical and computational methods to chemical and physical problems in biology and material science.
Ebenezer Obadare, associate professor of sociology, joined KU in 2006 after earning his doctoral degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he was Ford Foundation International Fellow and Lord Dahrendorf Scholar in the Centre for Civil Society in 2005-06. Prior to his academic career, he was an award-winning journalist in Nigeria. He is a member of the executive committee for the Kansas African Studies Center and the admissions and curriculum committee of the Center for Global and International Studies at KU. His research interests include civil society and the state, religion and politics in Africa, civic service and citizenship.
Hyunjin Seo, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications, joined KU in 2011 after earning her doctoral degree at Syracuse University, where she was also a Newhouse Postdoctoral Fellow. Last year, her research funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation complemented work her class on campaigns completed for the Kansas City Maker Faire. She also was the originator of a new dynamic space for focus groups that journalism students are using for their research. Her research and publications focus on the use of social media in creating community beyond geographical borders.
LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law honored more than 170 graduates at a hooding ceremony Saturday, May 18. During the ceremony, eight students received awards for distinguishing themselves in scholarship, leadership and service to the law school and the community.
- Michael Andrusak, Salina, Class of 1949 Leadership Award
- Ebonie Davis, Kansas City, Kan., Janean Meigs Memorial Award
- Ashley Dillon, Orinda, Calif., Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement
- Joy Isaacs, Topeka, Walter Hiersteiner Outstanding Service Award
- Eric Sader, Salina, Robert F. Bennett Award
- Joe Schremmer, Derby, Samuel Mellinger Scholarship, Leadership and Service Award
- Isabel Segarra, Austin, Texas, Justice Lloyd Kagey Leadership Award
- Henry Thomas, Overland Park, Class of 1949 Leadership Award
The award winners were part of a class composed of 174 recipients of the Juris Doctor, seven Doctor of Juridical Science graduates and two Master of Laws in Elder Law graduates.
Also honored during the ceremony was Uma Outka, associate professor of law, who received the 2013 Moreau Award. The award is given annually to the faculty member who, in the eyes of law students, has been particularly helpful in advising.
Funds for the awards are managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
Student award recipients are listed below by hometown.
From Overland Park
Henry Thomas was one of two recipients of the Class of 1949 Leadership Award, given to the student who has contributed most significantly to the overall experience of students in Green Hall. Thomas raised hundreds of dollars and gathered hundreds of books for children at surrounding hospitals and collaborated to create a successful Diversity Banquet during his term as president of the Asian Law Students Association. He spent a year serving indigent clients in Douglas County as a participant in the Legal Aid Clinic and three years as a Student Ambassador, advising and educating prospective law students. During the 2012-13 academic year, Thomas served as editor-in-chief of the Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy. Thomas is the son of Zach and Mary Thomas and a graduate of Rockhurst High School and Marquette University.
Michael Andrusak was one of two recipients of the Class of 1949 Leadership Award, given to the student who has contributed most significantly to the overall experience of students in Green Hall. Andrusak served two years as president of the Student Bar Association, reorganizing its structure to encourage continuity of its leadership. He spearheaded fundraising events and spoke at new student orientation, welcoming students and acclimating them to law school. He attended Board of Governors and other similar meetings, ensuring that students enjoyed a voice in law school governance. And, of course, he organized events, such as football tailgates, that allowed students to socialize and build relationships to last well beyond law school. Andrusak is the son of Janet Andrusak, was home-schooled through high school, and graduated from Pepperdine University.
Eric Sader received the Robert F. Bennett Award, recognizing a graduate whose undergraduate degree is from a Kansas university or college and who has demonstrated leadership qualities through public service. Sader graduated with a joint degree in law and social work. For two years, he served as a resident assistant in the law school’s Journey to J.D. program. He is a student representative on the board of directors for Ecumenical Campus Ministries at KU and, in 2011, was named one of KU’s Men of Merit in recognition of his role modeling a positive definition of masculinity through action and leadership. Sader has served as chief justice of the university’s Student Court of Appeals and an audio-reader for the visually impaired. He was recently selected as the new executive director of Jana’s Campaign, an organization dedicated to reducing gender and relationship violence. Sader is the son of Dale Sader and Mary Cook and a graduate of Salina High School South and McPherson College.
Joe Schremmer received the Samuel Mellinger Scholarship, Leadership and Service Award, given to the graduate who has most distinguished himself or herself in the combined areas of scholarship, leadership and service. Schremmer graduated with a joint degree in law and business, and his grades were among the best in his law school class. He served two years as a Lawyering Skills teaching assistant and two years in the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program, providing tax preparation assistance for low-income Kansans. His scholarly note, “Avoidable Fraccident: An Argument Against Strict Liability for Hydraulic Fracturing,” was selected for publication in the Kansas Law Review before he became the publication’s editor-in-chief. Schremmer is the son of Richard and Janice Schremmer and a graduate of Derby High School and KU.
Joy Isaacs received the Walter Hiersteiner Outstanding Service Award, given to the graduate whose service to his or her fellow students demonstrates the greatest promise for contribution to the legal profession and society. As a Shook, Hardy & Bacon Scholar, Isaacs mentored members of the first-year class to help improve their academic performance. She founded the law school’s 3-to-1 mentorship program, which matches successful upper-level students with entering first-year students. Isaacs served on the Kansas Law Review and still found time to coach volleyball at The Barstow Middle School. Isaacs is the daughter of Stan Noakes and Linda Noakes and a graduate of Washburn Rural High School and KU.
From Kansas City, Kan.
Ebonie Davis received the Janean Meigs Memorial Award, given to the student who has demonstrated a caring spirit in service to the students of the law school or the community at large. Davis served two years as a teaching assistant in the Journey to J.D. program designed to mentor and encourage diverse young people to consider law school and pursue legal opportunities in the region. She also served as president of the Black Law Students Association. In that role, she spearheaded BLSA’s annual Thanksgiving food drive and organized Thurgood Marshall Law Day, which annually hosts dozens of local high school students. She also serves as a mentor for the MODELS Mentoring Program, a community organization for teenage girls ages 12-17. And she has made these contributions to school and community while also caring for her own family, which includes two sons, ages 3 and 6. Davis is the daughter of Barbara White and a graduate of Wyandotte High School and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Ashley Dillon received the Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement, which goes to the graduating student selected by the faculty as having made the most significant contribution toward overall legal scholarship. Dillon’s scholarly note about the Kansas Uniform Trade Secrets Act was published in Volume 60 of the Kansas Law Review. She also served as executive note and comment editor on the Law Review and a chief justice of the Moot Court Council. Dillon spent two years as a Lawyering Skills teaching assistant, mentoring lawyering students in the first-year. She has accomplished all of this while maintaining an outstanding grade point average throughout all three years of her studies. Dillon is the daughter of Kent and Lynn Dillon and a graduate of Miramonte High School and the University of Missouri.
Isabel Segarra received the Justice Lloyd Kagey Leadership Award, given to the graduate who has most distinguished him or herself through leadership in the law school. A passionate environmental advocate, Segarra reinvigorated KU’s Environmental Law Society, serving as president during the 2011-12 academic year. As president, she brought various environmental law attorneys, including representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, to Green Hall for career panels and other educational functions; she lobbied the administration to stop purchasing Styrofoam products; and she encouraged faculty, staff and student participation in the Lights Out Energy Competition among different units on campus. This year, Segarra moderated a panel discussion on the impact of climate change on indigenous peoples during KU’s annual Tribal Law and Government Conference. She has written for the Journal of the Kansas Bar Association and was a member of the Jessup International Moot Court team that qualified for the international finals. Segarra is the daughter of Dolores Treviño and a graduate of Liberal Arts and Science Academy and Texas A&M University.