Intellectual property is everywhere, new dean of UNH Law says

  • Megan Carpenter speaks during a lecture at Texas A&M University School of Law. Courtesy

  • Megan Carpenter speaks during a lecture at Texas A&M University School of Law. —Courtesy photo

  • Megan Carpenter speaks during a lecture at Texas A&M University School of Law. Dan Brothers—Courtesy photo

  • Megan Carpenter visits Doc’s Records in Fort Worth, Texas. Carpenter, the new dean of the University of New Hampshire School of Law, led the Center for Law and Intellectual Property at Texas A&M University School of Law. Courtesy

  • Megan Carpenter visits Doc’s Records in Fort Worth, Texas. —Courtesy photo

Monitor staff
Sunday, March 26, 2017

Megan Carpenter, the University of New Hampshire School of Law’s new dean, wants the classroom to mirror what practicing law is really like.

She recalled working at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart law firm (now called K&L Gates) in Pittsburgh, Penn., and feeling a disconnect between what she was doing and what she learned in school. It was a moment that would shape her perspective on practicing, teaching and then administrating programs dedicated to intellectual property law, which deals with trademarks, patents and copyrights.

Now she hopes to use that perspective, which she used to establish and direct the Center for Law and Intellectual Property at Texas A&M University School of Law, to strengthen and expand UNH Law’s already well-known program. UNH Law has been ranked among the top 10 schools for the study of intellectual property law for 25 consecutive years, the school says.

Better preparing students to practice intellectual property law is more crucial than ever, Carpenter said, because the field is constantly evolving and expanding and has come to dominate the global economy.

“It used to be a pretty niche field,” she said. “But now it’s everywhere – it’s law related to figuring out what to do with human creativity, and everything that isn’t natural has some form of intellectual property.”

IP touches more areas of your life than you might think – music, for example. Carpenter wrote in an email that technology has led to a significant change in the way artists produce, distribute and earn money from music and how people consume it. Learning how to navigate intellectual property law is critical for musicians to maximize their ability to distribute their work and still earn a living.

“Years ago, music was recorded onto physical objects and distributed through stores, where it was sold to consumers,” she wrote. “These days, there are some people who listen to music all the time without owning any of it.”

To better teach Texas A&M students how to practice law, Carpenter made integration the focus of the university’s intellectual property program, developing clinics where students work with clients. The school’s various programs gave students the chance to help develop trademarks and patents or even help establish businesses.

But Carpenter envisions taking the integration a step further at UNH Law, allowing collaboration with students at UNH’s Durham and Manchester campuses.

“There’s no subject where IP doesn’t have an effect – from the health care field, to sciences, public policy and engineering. It’s not specialized; it’s connected to everything,” she said.

UNH Law’s interim dean, Jordan Budd, said intellectual property is the basis of many global companies.

“When you look at the economy, you can see advanced nations shifting from manufacturing ... and the monetization of tangible resources of the Earth to an idea-based economy,” he said. “Companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft are corporations whose values depend exclusively on an idea.”

It’s hard to imagine the school’s reach in the intellectual property field could go further: Budd said the school was founded more than 40 years ago specifically to advance intellectual property education and has gained worldwide renown since then. He said the school’s alumni work in more than 85 countries, including Shu-min Hong, director general of Taiwan’s Intellectual Property Office.

Budd said Carpenter’s connection to both educational and practical circles will continue to raise the school’s profile domestically and internationally. In addition to her teaching and administrative career, Carpenter has been published in several journals, including the Fordham Law Review and the Yale Journal of Human Rights and Development.

With Carpenter’s hiring, Budd will continue to helm the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Service, which has seen leadership changeovers in recent years. He replaced interim director Rich Ashooh last March after the previous director and former UNH Law dean John Broderick stepped down in 2015.

Broderick’s departure was not without controversy. He submitted a letter to the Rudman Center’s board of directors stating that the university was not doing enough to support the center. A week later, the university asked him to turn in his keys, identification card and any other UNH items.

Budd was adamant in saying the school has moved forward with little disruption since Broderick’s departure and has made strides such as adding new faculty members and creating international partnerships with law schools and government agencies.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)