IP Osgoode heats up the intellectual property law debate

Osgoode Hall Law School is turning up the heat on the already red-hot intellectual property law debate in Canada with the official launch last week of IP Osgoode – an innovative new Intellectual Property (IP) Law and Technology Program.

Ontario Minister of Research & Innovation John Wilkinson and Michael Bryant (LLB ’92), minister of economic development, were among the well-wishers who crowded into the Windows room of the Four Seasons Hotel last Wednesday to celebrate the arrival of IP Osgoode, an independent and authoritative voice on intellectual property issues.

“The future is based on ideas and ideas come from people,” Wilkinson noted. He congratulated the law school and IP Osgoode on its vision and initiative in helping to frame the intellectual property law discussion in Canada. “We have no other alternative for our children and our grandchildren than to create a knowledge-based, prosperous country in the 21st century,” said Willkinson.

Above: From left, Visiting Professor Rex Shoyama (assistant director, IP Osgoode), Professor Giuseppina D’Agostino (founder & director, IP Osgoode), Ontario Minister John Wilkinson, Professor David Vaver, Professor Carys Craig and Dean Patrick Monahan

Osgoode is partnering with five leading law firms – Cassels Brock & Blackwell, Gowling Lafleur Henderson, McCarthy Tétrault, Ogilvy Renault and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt – and industry leaders Audio-Video Licensing Agency Inc. and Copyright Collective of Canada/Société de perception de droit d’auteur du Canada, in this groundbreaking program. 

An impressive IP Osgoode Advisory Board has also been assembled, which includes Justice Marshall Rothstein, Justice Roger T. Hughes, Justice Karen M. Weiler and a group of leading Canadian IP practitioners.

In addition to a variety of academic courses focusing on topics such as copyright, digital copyright, trademarks, international intellectual property and intellectual property theory, special features of the IP Osgoode program include a new IP Osgoode Web site, which is home to the online blog, IPilogue.ca, which features high-profile guest bloggers, student editors and daily postings. The IP Osgoode program will also host a series of special events and presentations by internationally respected IP experts. “With the launch of this new program, Osgoode will be in a unique position to educate and prepare our next generation of lawyers to compete and succeed in a knowledge-based society,” Osgoode Dean Patrick Monahan said at the launch event, which took place in conjunction with the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada (IPIC). 

“We believe that there is a need for a much more robust public policy debate on IP and related technology law issues in Canada,” Monahan said. “The creation of IP Osgoode, and our ability to provide useful policy options, will better ensure a balance in policy and law-making processes.”

Monahan’s sentiments have been echoed by a number of individuals including Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive officer of Research In Motion, creator of the BlackBerry, who wasn’t able to attend the launch, but who is quoted in IP Osgoode’s introductory video. “IP Osgoode will finally bring a credible and balanced voice to Canada’s most important IP issues,” Balsillie said. Susan Abramovitch, a partner with Gowling Lafleur Henderson, was equally magnanimous in her praise for IP Osgoode. “The work of IP Osgoode will help me be a more effective advocate on behalf of my clients,” she said.

Helping to shape IP Osgoode will be Professor David Vaver (left), an iconic figure in the field of intellectual property law, who will be returning to Osgoode in 2009 as Professor of Intellectual Property Law, after a decade at the University of Oxford as the Reuters Professor of Intellectual Property & Information Technology Law and director of the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre. 

Other members of the IP Osgoode team include Osgoode Professors Giuseppina D’Agostino (founder and director of IP Osgoode), Carys Craig and Ikechi Mgbeoji and Visiting Professor Rex Shoyama (assistant director, IP Osgoode).

Right: Members of the IP Osgoode team include, from left, Professor Carys Craig, Professor Ikechi Mgbeoji, Professor Giuseppina D’Agostino (founder and director, IP Osgoode) and Visiting Professor Rex Shoyama (assistant director, IP Osgoode)

The day after the IP Osgoode event at the Four Seasons, the program and its team members were formally introduced to Osgoode students, faculty and staff at a noon-hour gathering in the law school’s mixing area. 

D’Agostino highlighted key aspects of IP Osgoode and praised Osgoode students for their enthusiastic involvement in the program, pointing out that IPilogue.ca is a student-led blog – the only one of its kind in Canada. She said that prizes sponsored by Gowling Lafleur Henderson, one of IP Osgoode’s leading supporters, have already been awarded and published on the IP Osgoode Web site. For the first time in any Canadian law school, there will be four prizes awarded to Osgoode students each year for the Best IP Blogs. “We need to see a more balanced, objective approach to the IP debate and we can’t do this without your input,” D’Agostino told the students. 

The last word went to Monahan, though, who summed up IP Osgoode for the students in one simple phrase: “If you’re interested in IP, Osgoode is the place to be.”