Lunch & Learn - Adaptive Intellectual Property

Monday, January 27, 2020
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
UNH Franklin Pierce School of Law
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Connolly, Lauri
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Lunch & Learn with Jacob Sherkow

Room 282, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

FREE lunch will be served! RSVP by January 15th:
Prize drawing for students who RSVP and attend event!!

Scientific communities have long been seen as antagonistic to intellectual property because it privatizes common resources or, in the case of trade secrets, deprives communities of new knowledge altogether. But recent developments in research technologies and scientific governance are beginning to challenge this paradigm. For some, and in contrast to earlier scholarly accounts of the practice, intellectual property can be viewed as a necessary if inconvenient feature of even basic research subject to the governance of the community itself. This seems especially true for scientific communities that include commercial researchers who provide materials, technical assistance, and research input. This Article explores this contrast to the canonical account of intellectual property and scientific communities through the work of one such community: the Adaptive Immune Receptor Repertoire Community (“the AIRR Community”), a loose confederation of researchers devoted to genetically sequencing cells of the immune system. The Article grounds its analysis in the technical challenges facing the AIRR Community, scientific literature about genetic “big data,” open discussions on intellectual property held during the course of the AIRR Community’s annual meetings, structured interviews of scientists working in the field, and the author’s own work as a member of one of the AIRR Community’s working groups. The AIRR Community presents an apt case study for this shift in attitudes concerning scientific communities and intellectual property because it is likely indicative of similar technical challenges facing a variety of scientific ommunities today and the intellectual property issues they face. These include the rise of industrial partners in scientific communities, the thinning of the line between basic and translational research, a greater awareness of intellectual property issues among scientists, complications with research globalization, and the connection between intellectual property use and scientific integrity. This suggests that scientific communities have—and should have—a greater role in adapting intellectual property policies to their own ends. More broadly, scientific communities should take up the mantle of tailoring intellectual property policies for grant-funded research in their respective fields, mitigate researchers’ technology assignment agreements with universities, and more readily accept their role as standards setting organizations. Ultimately, this Article serves to show that scientific communities, far from being antagonistic to intellectual property, can adapt it to their own ends.
Jacob S. Sherkow is the Edmond J. Safra/Petrie-Flom Centers Joint Fellow-in-Residence at Harvard University, where his research focuses on the legal and ethical implications of advanced biotechnologies, especially as related to intellectual property. He is a leading expert on IP protection for genome-editing technologies, including CRISPR. He is also Professor of Law at the Innovation Center for Law and Technology at New York Law School and a Permanent Visiting Professor at the Center for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law (“CeBIL”) at the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law. He is the author of over 40 articles published in both scientific journals and traditional law reviews, including Science, Nature, the Yale Law Journal, and the Stanford Law Review. Prof. Sherkow’s work has been recognized by both the scientific and legal communities. His scholarship has won multiple prizes, including the 2018 Otto L. Walter Distinguished Writing Award. In 2018, he was appointed to the National Academy of Medicine as an Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine. 
Prior to joining Harvard, Prof. Sherkow held visiting academic positions at Stanford Law School and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. He has also been a patent litigator at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and a law clerk in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Prof. Sherkow graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was an editor of the Michigan Law Review and the recipient of the Fred L. Leckie and James N. Adler Scholarships. He holds an M.A. in biotechnology from Columbia University and a B.Sc. from McGill University, where he majored in molecular biology and English literature. In addition to his legal training, Prof. Sherkow has several years of experience as a research scientist in molecular biology. 

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