On September 21-22, 2012, the School of Law's Intellectual Property Institute co-hosted an international conference on Global Intellectual Property Enforcement in Washington, DC. Organized with the Intellectual Property Commission of the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA) (International Association of Lawyers), the conference featured speakers from five continents, including judges, government officials, and in-house counsel from companies such as Microsoft, Viacom, Pfizer, and Costco. The two-day event concluded with the IP Institute's Sixth Annual Evil Twin Debate.

Professor James Gibson, founder and director of the School's Intellectual Property Institute and Professor of Law, organized the conference with UIA. Gibson explained that the conference was designed for practitioners working in international intellectual property law, but several UR law and undergraduate students were also in attendance.

The conference addressed the enforcement of intellectual property rights across a multiplicity of jurisdictions and industries, and also considered a variety of means of enforcement. Among the many panel topics were interdiction of pirated goods at the border, alternative dispute resolution for transnational disputes, and international protection for pharmaceuticals—a discussion moderated by Professor Chris Cotropia, another intellectual property expert on the law school faculty.

The conference kicked off with an "Entertainment, Software, and the Internet" panel, which featured a lively discussion among panelists Stanley Pierre-Louis, the vice president and Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property and Content Protection at Viacom Inc., Andrew Bridges, partner at Fenwick & West's San Francisco, Ca., office, and Ralph Oman, formerly the U.S. Register of Copyrights and now the Pravel Professorial Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law at George Washington University Law School. Gibson explained, "The three panelists started off the conference with a very high level discussion about the proper role of copyright law in the world of developing technology and the Internet."

Gibson noted that another highlight of the conference was a practice-level panel that featured in-house counsels from corporations such as Costco and VF Corporation. The "Luxury and Consumer Goods" panel dealt with the companies' approaches to international intellectual property issues. He commented, "The industry attorneys on the panel were really honest and forthright in the kinds of balances that in-house lawyers—who represent one particular corporation—have to strike. I thought it was very informative, and I think the students got a lot of out of that panel."

The University's Carole Weinstein International Center provided funds to cover transportation and housing for several students to attend the DC conference. Gibson noted that the international conference was part of the School of Law's emphasis on internationalizing the curriculum and the student experience. "This is part and parcel to the larger movement here at the University and the practice of law generally."

Ilya Zlatkin, L'13, was one of the students who attended the conference. Zlatkin, who is specializing in Intellectual Property and plans to practice international business law after he graduates, said that when he learned about the event, he knew he had to go. He explained, "I plan to practice international business law, and nowadays, it's almost impossible to be a business lawyer without having at least some background in IP. The international aspect made the conference that much more enticing for me."

Zlatkin said he didn't realize the conference presentations would contribute to his research for a paper he's writing for an International Intellectual Property class. "My paper has to do with the new Russian IP court, which actually turned out to be the exact topic that the presenter from Russia spoke about at the Global IP Conference." He also said he learned interesting things about Intellectual Property in other parts of the world and about IP in industries that he didn't know much about before the conference.

Samantha Wessel, L'13, who also plans to practice in the IP field, said she attended the conference because it was a great opportunity to learn about the practitioner's approach to emerging issues in Intellectual Property. She added, "The conference also presented a fantastic networking opportunity." Wessel explained, "It was great to hear many different perspectives on issues that are affecting the IP field and how they are being dealt with by practitioners." She added, "It is great to see and hear how practitioners apply the IP principles we learn in class to current legal situations."

The conference concluded with the Sixth Annual Evil Twin Debate, an IP Institute-hosted series that brings together pairs of scholars who disagree on an important IP topic, but who can air their disagreements in a friendly exchange. Gibson explained, "One thing I noticed when I became a professor is how friendly academics are to one another, even when they really disagree on the merits of an issue. People can be philosophically miles apart, but still be cordial and supportive of one another's work." He said the School of Law introduced the Evil Twin Debate series with the notion of bringing together scholars with differing viewpoints, but who are also respectful of each other, to produce a very accessible debate.

This year, the debate focused on the role of the World Trade Organization in Intellectual Property regulation. The debate featured Rochelle Dreyfuss, professor of law at NYU School of Law and one of the leading authorities on IP law, and Robert Armitage, general counsel of Eli Lilly & Co., who has been active in the formation of IP policy. They debated the topic, "TRIPS: Too Far or Not Far Enough?" Gibson commented, "The two had an excellent back and forth and really closed out the conference well."

When asked about the outcomes of the conference, Gibson said that in addition to the substantive education that conference participants received, the conference provided guests with the unique opportunity to meet other intellectual property experts from around the world. He added, "Making those contacts, sharing those experiences, I think, is really valuable in the development of the life of a lawyer."

"For the students, particularly, I hope that was a great experience, because Richmond is not an international crossroads for intellectual property work, but it's increasingly an important part of people's practice. So the opportunity for them to see it in action and to get to know the speakers, I hope, was an important take-away."