For the first time, this week’s post is written by a guest author. KeNosha Robinson is a rising 2L law student at Mississippi College School of Law who will enter into her first official intellectual property classes in a few days. I had the pleasure of working with her this Summer while she served as my legal intern. Her genuine curiosity helped to shape my thoughts and always challenged me to articulate in a more meaningful way. I learned a lot from her too in addition to helping to keep my sparks of curiosity burning.
Don’t tell anyone, but it has been a minute since I was a 2L law student. At one point, I was just a girl with a dream of intellectual property law. Since I cannot actually harness the magic of the movies to return back in time by way of a DeLorean and a flux capacitor, I thought a post from someone currently in the trenches of law school might serve to encourage others to take the leap down the IP law rabbit hole.
Confessions of an Aspiring Intellectual Property Attorney:
What I Learned, Hope to Learn and What I Wish My Creative Friends Knew
By — KeNosha Robinson, 2L Student Mississippi College School of Law
To borrow the popular phrasing of an addict’s first confession, “My name is Nosha, and I am an intellectual property nerd.” Though my first public confession, this is not my first realization of that fact. I can remember sitting in front of the television consuming the eagerly anticipated (after a long week of school, anyway) Saturday morning cartoons lineup wondering about the different artistic components that went into the product of brightly colored, vividly animated entertainment before my eyes. Or, perhaps it was the incessant perusal of intellectual property blogs at hours during which normal people sleep. Or, maybe, the realization came when everywhere I looked, I encountered arguably blatant copyright and/or trademark infringement issues.
Unsure of exactly when it happened, needless to say, I am obsessed with all things intellectual property. And with each morsel of knowledge I gain, I conclude that I do not know what I do not know. So, let’s just call this first phase of my intellectual property obsession “Discovery.” (No legal pun intended, honest) I want to share what I have learned serving as Ryanne’s summer legal intern, what I hope to learn as I prepare to take my first intellectual property law courses this fall, and what I wish all my creative friends knew about the importance of retaining an intellectual property attorney to assist them with protecting the brilliant inventions of their minds.
Before law school, I thought I was just in love with ideas and the grand potential infused in most ideas. Now, in light of and combined with my passion for the purpose and gravity of the law, I am actually in love with the preservation and protection afforded ideas through the provision and enforcement of intellectual property law. My internship this summer gave me the opportunity to study intellectual property law in new and diverse ways. If I could summarize my comprehension, I would use the words of wisdom Ryanne offered me during one of our frequent mentorship moments. She said something to the effect of “You’re realizing that being an IP and entertainment attorney is not all about hanging out at the Grammy’s. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s real work.” As I have endeavored to wrap my mind around the six sticks in the bundle of rights of a copyright owner or to sink my teeth into the four factors of fair use doctrine (no one of which is determinative), I am aware that not only is reading and understanding the language of intellectual property law complex, but the interpretation can be quite elusive.
Armed with only a rudimentary knowledge of the law thanks to many reading assignments given by Ryanne, I was assigned to perform legal research, analyze contracts, and draft simple agreements. As the fifth or sixth red-penned draft of an agreement reached my desk, it became increasingly evident that preserving and protecting the intellectual property of people and entities requires an uncanny knack for basically thinking of everything. Right to use/not to use, right to distribute/not to distribute, non-exclusive, limited license worldwide in perpetuity, oh my! Did I sound smart? Just checking.
My point is simply this. The intellectual property attorney must be thoughtful and thorough to make sure the contracts she drafts are those that have the best chance of proactively accounting for and guarding against any and every manner of copyright and trademark infringement. The goal will be to safeguard the creative client, is neither infringed upon nor the infringer.
Consequently, I am convinced that honing an intellectual property law specialty necessitates a unique and sophisticated level of commitment, time, intention, and attention. This area of law is incredibly complicated and nuanced. Therefore, an aspiring intellectual property lawyer must cultivate her knowledge and expertise both in and out the classroom. Moreover, the ways in which movies, television, music, and literary works are designed, distributed, and shared change so rapidly. As a result, copyright and trademark owners’ needs and demands for full protection of their intellectual property must be modified to accommodate industry changes. The intellectual property attorney is responsible to stay in step with not only the law but also the climate and condition of the ever-changing entertainment industry.
Observing Ryanne at work and in other capacities where she displays her intellectual property law prowess, I grasp that harvesting respect as an expert in this area of the law is earned through exceptional stewardship of the substantive law. My mindset has been revolutionized concerning what it takes to be an effective intellectual property attorney. Most days, I feel I have and can do what it takes.
Furthermore, I am enthusiastic to begin the fall semester of 2L year of law school where I will engage intellectual property law in an academic context. Remember earlier when I mentioned that I do not know what I do not know? A couple of paragraphs later, that is still true. Thus, what I hope to learn is any and everything. I am enrolled in Copyright Law and Introduction to Intellectual Property Law. I am grateful for the initial advantage I have in that I have spent an entire summer being exposed to and enlightened in different facets of intellectual property law theory and practice. I do hope to learn how to effectively read, study, and interpret the law in this area. In addition to academic work, I desire to keep a fresh perspective on intellectual property matters in the marketplace. Therefore, I plan to still ingest content from blogs such as Statute of RyAnne.
My last confession is one that I should be divulging to my creative friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. I want to implore them, “If you make or use intellectual property, get an intellectual property attorney. And for everyone’s sake, abandon the do-it-yourself strategic plan.”
Nevertheless, telling an artist they are doing a sloppy job at protecting their artistry is the equivalent of telling a mother that she is doing a sloppy job at protecting her child. Thanks to the ease of accessing online resources, creative and inventive people can be made generally aware of the steps they need to take to protect their intellectual property. The problem, however, is when people think they can do it themselves apart from the specialized capability of an intellectual property attorney.
I know several creators and inventors who feel that the Internet information and tools are sufficiently useful for their efforts to ensure maximum protection of their creations and inventions. In many of their cases, I think, “Wow, that book really is for dummies.” Seriously though, there is no adequate substitute for retaining a knowledgeable and reputable intellectual property attorney. Yes, it can be a pricy endeavor, but you cannot put a price on the property of your mind. Trust me, you do not want to watch in anguish as someone else profits millions of dollars from your million-dollar idea.
Overall, I am thrilled about joining the impressive ranks of superb intellectual property attorneys. Their work is invaluable to society’s creative landscape. In the meantime, while I learn the rigors of the practice area, I am unauthorized to practice law. Yet, when I see creations and inventions that are not properly protected or attributed, it is like observing someone driving without a seatbelt. Sure, maybe that driver will arrive safely to his destination. Alternatively, he may become a prime example of the national seatbelt campaign slogan, “Click it or ticket.” Until I can legally counsel those infringement perpetrators and victims, I will simply yell, “Buckle up!” to all those I know or encounter who obviously and falsely resolve it is too burdensome to just fasten the seat belt of intellectual property integrity. Seat belts save lives; intellectual property protections save the inimitably wrought property of your mind. I will end here for fear of losing myself in this very amusing analogy.
Thank you for listening.
And, thank you to Nosha for sharing her thoughts and words of advice for anyone thinking about entering the world of intellectual property law. Take part in the Comments section below and Stay Tuned In!
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