Law professor recognized by national trade association

By Mike Scott

Legal News

Cooley Law School Professor David Berry has gone from practicing patent law at a private Boston firm to teaching intellectual property courses to law school students. And he wouldn't have it any other way.

Now after seven years of being involved with the International Trademark Association (INTA), Berry has been recognized for his service with that legal trade organization, having been awarded the Volunteer Service Award for the Advancement of the Association. The INTA announced Berry's award in November.

Berry is the Director of Cooley's Graduate Program in Intellectual Property Law and he works out of the school's Auburn Hills campus.

"I found out about it about a month before the announcement and it came as quite a surprise," said the Flint native.

The award recognizes individuals who provide exemplary volunteer service to INTA during the past year, and often for long-term service spanning multiple years. INTA recognized Berry for his efforts to increase the participation of academic members in association programs. He played a key role in initiating the annual INTA Trademark Scholarship Symposium, open to intellectual property professors and scholars worldwide, and a special "Academic Day" of programming at INTA's annual meeting.

Both projects have succeeded in increasing the involvement of professors and law students in INTA.

"The association has decided back in 2003 when I first jointed that it needed to have a stronger involvement with law school professors from around the country," Berry said. "The symposium allows professors and scholars to present papers and get comments from peers and people representing clients in trademark issues."

One challenge with being a law school professor is that it can be difficult to keep current with what is happening in the real world, especially without regular client contact, Berry said. The INTA's annual symposium, of which Berry has played a major role for the last seven years, allows law school professors to have an opportunity for continuing education on a variety of IP-related topics.

That is particularly critical in a specialty where ongoing changes with the Internet and social media lead to evolving legal issues and statutes.

INTA is an international organization that before the early part of the 21st Century was considered more as a lobby for IP brand owners. But over time it became more of an organization that reflects trademark and brand needs from a legal perspective, Berry said.

"We try to support professors who are working on research," Berry said. "This can improve the discourse between professors and practitioners."

The annual symposium is held in May at the same time as the association's annual meeting. As many as 10,000 lawyers will attend each year. This year's symposium and annual meeting will be held next May in San Francisco.

Once this spring's conference is over, Berry likely will become involved on a different INTA committee, most likely pro bono, he said. INTA also is very active in developing programs for law students or practitioners who want to get into trademark law. It offers a number of mentoring programs and career panel discussions.

Berry made the decision to focus on teaching law nearly a decade ago. Cooley was looking for lawyers with corporate experience for its then brand-new Auburn Hills campus.

"I had done (the private practice job) and I just thought that I needed to do something that was a little more for me -- something that piqued my interests," Berry said. "I wanted interaction with students and looked forward to building something from the ground level. I can truly say that I haven't looked back on that decision -- at least on most days," he added with a chuckle.

And during that time local and national interest in IP law among law school students has increased, said Berry, a University of Michigan Law School graduate. One reason is simple demand -- more professionals encounter IP issues in businesses.

"Entrepreneurs are becoming more innovative so we have to worry a lot about IP," Berry said. "We've seen a huge increase in the number of students interested. I would say that IP is becoming more important as a legal field because a lot of the growth in our community is in information technologies.

"Many business activities depend on IP protection. That's even truer now because the market issues are global, based on the number of countries that a business operates in."

Cooley also has a strong percentage of students who have engineering and technical backgrounds. That was very rare 10-15 years ago, Berry said. Now the school caters to these professionals, who have technical backgrounds.

"Many of them are entering the IP field and law schools are forced to expand these programs to remain current with the trends," Berry said. "So for many of them the INTA is a great organization to be introduced to."

Published: Mon, Dec 27, 2010